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Parent Email–August 26, 2011

  • Meet the Kalers
  • National College Colors Day
  • Campus Safety Campaign
  • Update on Parents Weekend Events
  • Off-Campus Housing: Free Store
  • Move-In Reports
  • Parents Role in Student Success
  • Online Seminar for Parents: Alcohol Use on Campus

While it's never wise to put too much stock in long-range forecasts, it looks like the weather might cooperate for much of move-in week. Students who have been assigned Monday and Tuesday move-in times are predicted to have near-perfect weather, with temperatures in the low 80s and a moderate cloud cover. Wednesday residence hall move-in may have an isolated thunderstorm and rising heat and humidity. Apartment dwellers moving on the first of September also face isolated storms and temperatures approaching 90. Upperclassmen moving into residence halls during Labor Day weekend can take it easy under sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.

You can keep track of real-time weather conditions and the rising levels of campus activity over the next week by watching the Northrop Mall webcam.

Meet the Kalers

President Eric Kaler and his wife, Karen, are looking forward to meeting students—and their parents—as the academic year begins. You might see them at the State Fair, dressed in Gopher Gear, on Maroon and Gold Day, August 28. They will be at the University's building at the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street.

Then again, you may see them during Move-In, either out and about overseeing residence hall activities or at one of the Parent Receptions. (Parent Receptions will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, August 29, at the Territorial Hall TV Lounge in the Super Block; noon to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 30, in the Mississippi Room in Coffman Union; and noon to 3 p.m., Wednesday, August 31, in the Mississippi Room, Coffman Union.)

You'll have another chance to meet the Kalers during Parents Weekend, September 30 to October 2. Registration for Parents Weekend is due by September 12.

National College Colors Day

If you're wearing your best maroon and gold gear to the fair on August 28, be sure to have it washed and pressed by Friday, September 2. That will be National College Colors Day, and we're asking parents of U of M students around the country (and world) to wear Gopher gear that day. Post a photo of your best maroon and gold photo on the U of M Bookstore's Facebook page, and the winning look will receive a $50 Bookstore gift card. (On September 2, look for the National College Colors Day event on the  Bookstore Facebook page—locate the National College Colors Day announcement on that page—and identify your entry as part of the the Parents/Family category). Bookstore Facebook fans will select the winning photo, so be sure to tell your friends and family members to "like" your entry.

Campus Safety Campaign

Traffic around campus is always challenging at the beginning of the academic year when students, staff, and faculty are figuring out their routes for the fall semester. This year, with light rail construction through the middle of campus, traffic will be even more challenging. A fall Safety campaign will focus on pedestrian, bike, and auto safety with the theme, "Safety Is Easy; The Pavement Is Hard."

We know you taught your student to look both ways before crossing the street, to wait for the walk sign at traffic lights, and to wear a bike helmet, but those simple messages bear repeating. When students are late for class, they may decide to cross in the middle of the block, and when walking or biking in a group, it's easy to believe the group warrants extra priority. There is also that sense that pedestrians and cyclists are environmentally superior, so cars should yield to them.

We'll deliver safety messages throughout the next few weeks, and you can help by reminding your student to wear a bike helmet when cycling. You also can help by telling your student that you've heard that campus police will be ticketing jaywalkers and students who are riding bikes on sidewalks. They will be ticketing—not to be mean, but because we're really concerned about keeping students safe, and those basic rules make a big difference.

Update on Parents Weekend Events

We have just learned of two big events occurring during Parents Weekend that will take place on Sunday, October 2. The women's rowing team will host the Head of the Mississippi Regatta from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The best location for watching the regatta is in the East River Flats Park, below Coffman Union, near the University's boathouse. It's a beautiful sport to watch and a great venue in the fall, along the Mississippi River. And we are hoping the trees along the river might turn to maroon and gold in honor of the rowing teams.

Just up the hill from the regatta, the Weisman Art Museum (WAM) will be re-opening after a year-long renovation and expansion.

WAMdemonium will include printmaking and screen printing on T-shirts, yoga sessions (with architectural inspired poses), performances, tours of the expansion, and more. The events will run from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 2.

Parents Weekend events are still being updated. See the current schedule and registration information, and register by September 12.

Off-Campus Housing: Free Store

Students living in a house or apartment off campus might find just the furniture they're looking for at the Move In/Move Out Neighborhood Free Store (MIMO). Better yet, students moving OUT of their house or apartment, can schedule pickup of unwanted furniture that can be reused, rather than moved or abandoned. There are some limitations for donations: the store is unable to take mattresses or upholstered furniture; no broken or dirty items; and there are some limitations on electronics. A list of acceptable and unacceptable donations is included on the website.

Pickups are being scheduled for August 30. The Free Store opens September 1; dates and times for "shopping" are on the website.

Move-In Reports

After your student moves to an on-campus residence hall or apartment, or to an off-campus house or apartment, we would like your feedback. We need to hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences so that we can improve our procedures in the future.

If you student is moving to an on-campus residence, please send any comments about your experience to Lisa Schulte at schul143@umn.edu. For those moving a student to an off-campus residence, send comments to Kendre Turonie, turon001@umn.edu

Parents' Role in Student Success

When students go to college, they begin a transition that affects not only themselves, but also their families. As the student-parent relationship adjusts, it can be challenging for the student, the parent, and the university to understand and communicate about the changing roles they each face. As a way to guide the conversation about appropriate and successful family involvement during the college years, the University of Minnesota has developed a set of Desired Outcomes for Parent Involvement.

Over the next two months, we will include information in our parent emails about these outcomes. The basis of the outcomes is that we believe families make an important contribution to student success by understanding the student experience, supporting student learning, and empowering students to take personal responsibility for their own social and academic choices.

Online Seminar for Parents: Alcohol Use on Campus

The University of Minnesota takes underage drinking very seriously. Students who drink, and especially those who drink excessively, not only undermine their own academic success, but also negatively affect those who live near them. Parent messages about alcohol have an impact. When students know your expectations about partying and drinking, they are less likely to binge drink and less likely to experience negative consequences from drinking. Parent expectations can be more powerful than peer pressure.

The messages that may have been effective during high school need to be adjusted for the college environment. An online seminar, developed by the University Parent Program and the U of M Department of Family Social Science, provides information to help family members understand the culture surrounding alcohol at the U of M and learn about resources on our campus. It includes talking points for parents of college students, as well as the student perspective on parties and drinking.

The seminar is available to U of M parents at no charge. We encourage you to go through the Seminar for Parents: Alcohol Use on Campus and discuss it with your student.

Miscellaneous

When classes begin, we will start our first Common Reading program for parents and family members. The Parent Program has joined with the College of Education and Human Development to read "Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference," by Warren St. John (Spiegel and Grau, 2009). Parents will be encouraged to read the book, join an online discussion (on the University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page) and attend the public events on October 25 and November 1. The University Bookstore is offering parents a 25% discount on the paperback book, and it will be available at the Bookstore during Move-In week.

Reminder: The University of Minnesota Parent Association is conducting a national survey of college and university parents and families to assess expectations about post-college parenting. This survey will take about five minutes to fill out, and the results will be used to develop messages and services for parents as their students graduate from college. Survey participants are eligible for a drawing for ten $25 Amazon gift certificates, to be randomly selected from all respondents. Please fill out the survey. The deadline for responding is September 30, 2011. Thank you.