Before the fall semester starts on Aug. 23 at the University of New Mexico, the Student Activities Center is kicking off the University’s Welcome Back Days with Friday Night Live on Aug. 20. After a year and a half of virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first time for not only incoming freshmen but also rising sophomores to physically attend these events.

This in-person event is being held from 7-10 p.m. in the Student Union Building, with events including “karaoke, a DJ, henna tattoos, laser tag arena, photo booths, student organization tables and UNM sports teams,” according to the SAC’s website

SAC director Ryan Lindquist said the Welcome Back Days’ events are one of the best ways to get connected with resources and involvement opportunities on campus. Friday Night Live has over 70 organizations looking for new members, along with the bonus of free food. However, according to Lindquist, things aren’t quite the same as previous years.

“We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible, (but) my guess is with the pandemic, some people aren’t going to feel as comfortable participating,” Lindquist said. “We’re going to do our best to provide some socially distanced tables.”

Friday Night Live is designed to give people the maximum amount of opportunities to interact with one another and keep moving around, according to Lindquist. For example, laser tag will be held in the SUB ballrooms, while henna tattoos will be taking place on the plaza level.

Per University guidelines, all indoor activities, including Friday Night Live, will require that masks be worn regardless of vaccination status. SAC will also encourage masks to be worn during outside activities due to an expected high number of individuals attending the event.

According to Lindquist, it’s been hard to gauge how excited students are for the Welcome Back Days’ events. He said these in-person socializing events are much different than the Zoom events that students have been attending over the pandemic.

“It’s not just the first-year class, but it’s also the second-year class that really hasn’t seen a lot of these events, so we’re hoping that there’s increased excitement for the (events),” Lindquist said. 

Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @itsemmatr