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Parent Email–August 21, 2013

University Parent

Office for Student Affairs

August 21, 2013

Inside This Issue

  • Move-in Receptions: Please Come See Us
  • Before Students Move to Campus
  • Commuter Students
  • Students Living Off Campus
  • Second-Year Experience
  • Parents Weekend (and Volleyball Games)
  • Strengths at the U of M
  • Data Privacy
  • Minnesota State Fair
  • Learning Abroad Fair
  • Re-Use-a-Palooza
  • Cost of College Drinking
  • Miscellaneous

Move-In Receptions: Please Come See Us

First-year students are moving to campus next week, and we're looking forward to meeting the Class of 2017 and their parents. Please, parents, come to the Move-In Reception we have planned for you, between noon and 9 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, August 26 and 27, at The Whole Music Club, lower level of Coffman Union. (That's a floor below the Great Hall and Bookstore.) Parent Program staff, plus plenty of volunteers, will be waiting to talk to you, and we really, really want you to stop by. Besides having the opportunity to meet library staff, campus police, dining services staff, college representatives, Boynton Health Service professionals, students, and many more campus employees, you can hang out in The Whole, the University's venue for local and national bands. No bands are scheduled for Monday or Tuesday, but the campus radio station, Radio K, will be providing deejays and spinning records at least part of the time. That's music geared to college parents.

On the St. Paul Campus, a reception will be held from 2-4 p.m., Tuesday, August 27, in the lower level of Bailey Hall.

Take a break from moving, get your last-minute questions answered, have some refreshments, and meet the people who have volunteered their time to meet parents--including some familiar faces from Parent Orientation.

Before Students Move to Campus

Every year, during the first few days after students move into residence halls and apartments, the Parent Program receives phone calls from parents saying, "I forgot to ask my student to write down her address. I want to send her a card (or cookies, or a gift--hint to parents: students actually love to get letters and packages ). How do I address it?" Please ask your student to write down the mailing address, which can be found in the student's Move-In instructions, and it is in their Move-In Guide.

Typically, the mailing address is
Student Name
Building Name and Room Number
Street Address,
City, State, Zip

The street address should always be included. Housing & Residential Life's General Information page includes links for all residence halls and on-campus apartments with the street address for each building near the top of each page.

If your student is living off campus, please also be sure you have the mailing address.

In addition, we find that there are some predictable items that students tend to forget when they move to campus. While students don't really want their parents reminding them of every little thing or double-checking their packing, you might mention that you understand that a lot of students forget items they typically keep beside their bed or in the bathroom. And it's amazing how many students forget their U of M ID card, probably because they haven't needed it all summer. The most-commonly-forgotten list:

  • U of M ID
  • Contact lens solution
  • Prescription glasses or sunglasses
  • Medications
  • Various chargers for electronics

Commuter Students

Students who choose to commute to campus rather than live in a residence hall make that choice for a number of reasons: they want to save money, enjoy the comforts of home, help with family obligations, work at an off-campus job, or they just want to stay with their family. Commuters face similar adjustment-to-college issues that all first-year students face, but those who live at home or in a house or apartment off campus are likely to encounter some unique challenges. In addition, the college transition affects all members of the family, simply because the student is living at home and commuting to campus every day.

There are some things families can do to help with the transition and to support your commuter student throughout the year. Please look at our webpage for Parents of Commuter Students.

Students Living Off Campus

Moving into a first apartment is exciting and fun, but it also means new responsibilities. Students will be living next door to or near families and working adults, and it's important that they recognize the impact they can have on their neighborhood. A good first step is to introduce themselves to near neighbors and learn who lives next door. Good relationships, started early, reduce problems and complaints later on.

Personal safety is a greater concern when students are living off campus. Students should consider the best lit and most populated routes to and from campus, in case they are walking home late at night. The Security Monitor Program provides escort service at any time of day or night. Locks on doors and windows should be checked to ensure they are secure. Leaving bikes unsecured outdoors is an invitation to theft, and students should never leave valuables in their car.

As you're thinking of things your student will need for an apartment, please put "fire extinguisher" on the shopping list. When your student moves in, ask him or her to check for working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Maybe most important, students should talk about fire safety with their roommates and identify at least two exits from every room in their new home. They also should identify a meeting place a safe distance from the building in case of emergency. And a note: among the most significant factors in fires near college campuses are alcohol use, along with smoking on sofas or stuffed chairs on porches. When students smoke on the porch and drop hot ashes on cushions, they may not be aware of smoldering burns that ignite later, when students are sleeping. More information about campus fire safety is posted online.

Second-Year Experience

The second year is an opportunity for students to make a fresh start to their University experience. For some, it is the chance to meet new people, get more involved in campus life, or to do better academically. The first few weeks tend to have a lot of energy and excitement but that enthusiasm and all the good intentions may fade as old patterns or challenges re-emerge. Encourage your second-year student to jump into university life and connect with new opportunities and resources right from the start. Be sure to check out the Second Year Experience webpage for more information.

Parents Weekend (and Volleyball Games)

Registration is open for Parents Weekend, which is scheduled for October 18-20 with a couple of options starting October 17. Please see the Parents Weekend online schedule for the most up-to-date information about the weekend, and register by October 1.

Due to changes in the Volleyball schedule, we have some updated information about the two volleyball games during Parents Weekend. Parents and family members are invited to join students for the Gophers vs. Michigan State match at 6 p.m., Thursday, October 17, or for the Gophers vs. Michigan at 7 p.m., Saturday, October 19. You can get up to four free general admission tickets at using the promo code: UMParent. Tickets will be available while supplies last. U of M students receive free admission to all home Gopher Volleyball matches by showing their UCard.

Strengths at the U of M

The University of Minnesota is a "Strengths University." We ask incoming students to take an assessment of their talents, and we work with them in a number of ways as they focus on building those individual talents into Strengths. Students can use this information to develop their full potential in their academic, career, leadership, relationship, and engagement activities.

Our incoming first-year students and incoming transfer students are receiving information about how to take StrengthsFinder and will have chances to interact with their Top 5 Strengths as they arrive on campus during Welcome Week and Transfer Welcome Day. We will soon be posting Strengths-related workshops and events available to all undergraduate students on the website. For some ideas about how you can talk with your students about their Top 5, check out our conversation starters for parents and family members. We hope to see you at Parents Weekend, when we will present a workshop on Strengths at the U.

Data Privacy

There are several facets to data privacy for college students. In this email, we're going to talk about the kinds of student information that are considered "public data."

As a public institution, the University of Minnesota is required to maintain directory information about our students. That includes the following:

  • Name, address, phone number
  • U of MN e-mail address
  • Dates of enrollment
  • Enrollment status
  • College, major, adviser
  • Class (freshmen, sophomore, etc.)
  • Academic awards and honors
  • Degree received

Under state law, public information must be released upon request, which means that individuals or businesses can access directory information on a specific student, or they can ask for a mailing list of all students or students that fit within a certain category. For example, they could request the mailing address of all first-year students or all seniors. The University does not have the right to refuse to give out this information unless students specify that they want their directory information suppressed.

With that information, it is possible for a business to send a mailing to your student--or for that matter to you as "the parent of (your student's name)" to promote their product or service. They are not allowed to include the University of Minnesota wordmark or a University return address in their mailing, but it is possible that they will make their promotional pieces look very much like an official publication without using our registered marks.

Students can make a request to suppress their personal information, either by suppressing all information or identifying categories they don't want released. Some students choose to suppress their address and phone number, knowing they can provide that information to friends and classmates as needed. To suppress any directory information, they can go to the One Stop website and link to "Personal information" in the right-hand column.

Additional information about data privacy is available in a guide for parents, "The Parent Connection: Understanding Student Records Privacy."

Minnesota State Fair

Not all colleges and universities in the U.S. feel the need to post notifications about their State Fair, but the Minnesota State Fair is unique. It is adjacent to our St. Paul campus, and the U of M works with the State Fair on parking and transportation for fair-goers. Besides, we like to think that Our State Fair is the Best State Fair, and we hope that anyone who has never attended will give it a try. It's pretty awesome.

That said, the Fair, which runs from August 22 to September 2, means that traffic on campus will increase and parking may be tight through that period. For those who need to drive to campus, we suggest that you scope out your route in advance. Students coming to campus should be sure to carry their U Card, especially if they want to receive the regular University rate at public parking facilities on the St. Paul campus. Families moving their student to residence halls will need to follow the directions their student has received for move-in. Please be patient—we've done this before, and it works.

Most days of the Fair, free parking and free shuttle service is available from parking lots near the TCF stadium. However, the Gophers first football game of the year is scheduled for the evening of August 29, and parking/shuttle service for the Fair will not be available on the East Bank at all that day.

When you go to the Fair, look for the U. The U of M will have exhibitions highlighting the U's most exciting research, discoveries, and athletic accomplishments at the newly renovated building on Dan Patch Ave. In addition, the Ag Hort Building will have an entire wing dedicated to the work of CFANS (The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences), and the Eco Experience Building will showcase how the U contributes to sustainability. Maroon and Gold Day will be Sept. 1, with President Kaler, the UMTC Marching Band, and Goldy Gopher on hand to celebrate. For a complete schedule and map of U events, see U at the State Fair.

Reduced rate State Fair tickets and T-shirts are available through the University Bookstores.

Learning Abroad Fair

Students will be invited to attend the Learning Abroad Fair from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 18, on the West Bank Plaza. In case of rain, the event will move indoors to the Willey Hall Atrium. They can learn about more than 300 opportunities to study, volunteer, intern, work, or teach English abroad. Representatives from the Learning Abroad Center, affiliates, and University of Minnesota colleges will be on hand to answer questions.


As part of the University's commitment to re-use and recycling, more than 200 used bikes will be available for $50 or less from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, September 10, on Northrop Plaza. The U's ReUse Program and several local reuse vendors/artists will be available to sell quality reused items and artwork. For more information, see ReUse-A-Palooza.

Cost of College Drinking

The Office for Student Affairs provides students with legal services through the Student Services Fees they pay each semester. The director of University Student Legal Services has passed along some information that may be enlightening for parents:

The Cost to a First-time, Underage DWI Offender with a Blood-Alcohol Level between .08 and .15 percent (Minnesota)

Attorney Fee






Tow and Impound


Alcohol Assessment


Education Program


License Reinstatement


Victim Impact Panel






Costs and penalties are greater for a Blood-Alcohol Level over .15 percent, and the financial aspect does not include the factors that come into account when a student is arrested or hospitalized for drinking, nor does it include costs and penalties related to use of illegal drugs. Parental expectations can outweigh peer pressure when parents talk with their student about substance abuse. Please have a conversation with your student about your expectations related to use of alcohol and drugs.


The Parent Program was invited to yesterday's "soft opening" of the restaurant in the new 17th Avenue Residence Hall. The Fresh Food Company features all-you-care-to-eat dining, with dishes made to order in the open kitchen. Students with meal plans can eat in the 17th Avenue restaurant, no matter which residence hall they live in. Students living off campus or commuting can get a commuter meal plan or use FlexDine dollars for residential dining.

We post a list of seasonal issues on the University Parent website. The fall information is online now.

If you have not yet responded to our Parent Question of the Month, please do. And while you're on the Parent Website, take a look around the site. There's a lot of information for parents of U of M students.