With the spring semester beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18, the University of New Mexico’s Student Activities Center and Associated Students of the University of New Mexico have organized several events in the first two weeks to get students back into the groove after break.

SAC has organized two Welcome Back Days, scheduled for Jan. 19 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Building atrium. There, various departments and organizations around campus will be able to table and showcase their organizations, and prospective students can find groups that fit their interests.

The first Welcome Back Day will be focused on showcasing different departments at the University as well as Greek organizations, and the following week will highlight student organizations.

The event was split into two days partly in the interest of social distancing protocols as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. SAC has been working to ensure the event is in line with COVID-19 protocols, according to Rudy Montoya, SAC student activities specialist. 

“I think students are always excited to attend an in-person event, and we’ve done our best to keep them safe so that we can actually follow through with them. I do know that attendance sometimes is limited because students still are with one foot in each space: one foot in the virtual world and one foot on campus, and that’s made in-person events a lot different,” Montoya said.

Attendance for in-person student events has not yet picked up to pre-pandemic numbers, according to Montoya. SAC, however, is welcoming this change for the time being.

“(Lower attendance) is not necessarily a bad thing … We’re actually working with that, with some of our events as we return. We don’t know what to expect, and so we try to spread things out and the smaller attendance is a good, slow start,” Montoya said.

ASUNM’s Special Students Events agency also has several activities lined up for students toward the end of the month. On Jan. 27, hypnotist Larry Volz will be visiting for a free event in SUB Ballroom C at 7:30 p.m. The Southwest Film Center will begin showings again on Jan. 29-30, though screening titles have not yet been announced.

ASUNM plans to maintain their momentum from last semester in upholding COVID-19 protocols at their events, according to ASUNM president Greg Romero. He said the organization is excited for the opportunity to provide more programming for students that is both fun and safe.

“To take a second to speak on the safety of these events, it still remains our top priority. With vaccination rates of students being so high along with the booster mandate for UNM, we're confident as of today that we can still have these events masked and safe,” Romero wrote to the Daily Lobo via email. “Of course, we are taking in new information as it comes. Our goal still is and will always be to create the best experience for students at UNM and to do it safely.”

A full calendar of spring student events is available at the SAC office or online.

Zara Roy is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle