UMass, Amherst gear up for return of students starting today

AMHERST — The town’s population will swell today as the 4,650 members of the freshmen class at the University of Massachusetts arrive for orientation.

While entering students spend their Labor Day weekend learning the ins and outs of living at UMass — including taking a pledge to affirm the campus’s community values — the town’s public safety officers continue to learn from past experience.

Police Chief Scott Livingstone said his department will have additional patrols throughout the weekend. With help from an Underage Alcohol Enforcement Grant from the state, more officers will be on the streets.

Police will monitor off-campus apartments, in particular those in North Amherst, where they will leave information about town bylaws and attempt to speak to students about their behavior. “That is part of ongoing communications with the students,” Livingstone said.

Officers have also been invited to meet with players on several sports teams, Livingstone said.

Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life at UMass, said messaging to new students began during summer orientation sessions and discussions about civility and being good neighbors continues this weekend. Alcohol education is a mandatory component of orientation.

So-called active bystander training that is part of the UMatter @ UMass initiative will be embedded into orientation, and campus banners, bus ads and residence hall programs will continue to remind students about how they can help each other when something harmful might happen.

While the student code of conduct offers a top-down approach to ensure students meet community expectations, UMatter is about students taking ownership of their own choices, Gelaye said.

Meanwhile, the Walk this Way initiative, which seeks to minimize disruptions in neighborhoods bordering the campus will begin right away, with students participating arriving on campus early to be trained.

Students move in

Move-in will follow similar procedures as previous years, including having traffic rerouted on several roads.

Today , vehicles will be prohibited from traveling south on University Drive from Massachusetts Avenue to Amity Street between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., when drivers are advised to use Route 116, Rocky Hill Road or North Pleasant Street to access Amity Street and the southern end of University Drive.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on both today and Sunday, northbound traffic will be prohibited on University Drive starting at Amity Street and on Sunset Avenue starting at Fearing Street. Regular traffic patterns on University Drive and Sunset Avenue will resume at 4 p.m. today , and at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, all traffic on Commonwealth Avenue in front of the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community will be moved to the southbound lanes for two-way travel while the northbound lanes will be used as an unloading zone for students moving into the complex.

During this weekend’s orientation, freshmen will have plenty of reasons to stay on campus. The UFest occurs Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. on the lawn in front of Goodell Hall, with carnival activities, community service stations and a competitive rope pull.

On Labor Day, the convocation is at 2 p.m., with a welcome from Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and others. Afterward, students wearing new UMass T-shirts will gather for an overhead photo and then have the welcome barbecue at 4 p.m. at Haigis Mall, featuring an attempt to have the world’s largest New England clambake. Over the last four years, UMass has set other Guinness World Records, such as the largest stir fry and largest fruit salad.

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