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Parent Email–August 28, 2013

University Parent

Office for Student Affairs

August 28, 2013

Inside This Issue

  • New Student Convocation: You Can Watch!
  • News from CAPE
  • Parents Weekend 2013
  • Common Reading
  • A Question for the U of M Chief of Police
  • Miscellaneous

The Class of 2017 has arrived! By all reports, move-in on Monday and Tuesday was like clockwork. Many thanks to families for maintaining your patience and sense of humor despite the miserable heat. We were deeply impressed that you arrived at our parent/family reception with smiles on your faces. Nearly every mom and dad seemed genuinely happy for their student, even when that pride and excitement was tinged with sadness at starting a new phase of the family's life cycle. Please remember that good times are still ahead, your student still needs your love and support, and the start of college is an event for the whole family to celebrate—you've been planning and thinking about this for years, and your student is in a great place.

It wouldn't have been such a successful day, however, without the amazing good spirits and energy of the Welcome Week Leaders and other gold-shirt-wearing volunteers who moved students into the residence halls. Students, parents, and staff were in awe of the enthusiasm and warm welcome those volunteers delivered. Parents of Welcome Week Leaders can be very, very proud. Somebody raised those students right.

New Student Convocation: You Can Watch!

New Student Convocation is the University of Minnesota’s official welcome to the Class of 2017. Convocation is a celebration of University tradition and the spirit of academic excellence and community. All first-year students will attend, and faculty and administrators will be dressed in their academic robes.

Among the speakers will be U of M President Eric Kaler and Assistant Professor Barry Kudrowitz. Professor Kudrowitz is a toy scientist (also known as a product designer) in the College of Design who achieved Internet celebrity status recently for his design of a Cookie Separator Machine.

If you would like to view the Convocation program, go online at 9:45 a.m., tomorrow—Thursday, August 29. You can check in advance to ensure that your computer will support the live streaming video of the Convocation program. Just go to the above link at any time and click on any of the University videos currently playing. If you are able to view the current videos, you will be able to view the Convocation program.

We will be posting on our Facebook page from convocation. If you're not currently connected with the University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page, go to your account and like us.

News from CAPE

The Center for Academic Planning and Exploration (CAPE) has developed several new  resources for its website. CAPE provides assistance to students who are unsure of their major or who are considering changing their academic plans.

A couple of quick highlights to draw your attention to:

  • U of M Majors and Resources: Students can browse through all U of M majors and have quick access to a variety of resources (course catalog, career information, learning abroad, department websites) to help them learn more about majors of interest.
  • Redesigned CAPE Action Plan: same familiar tool, with a few updates and renamed action guides.
  • Information for Transferring within the U, and High Demand Majors: resources to aid students in the transfer process and learning about admission requirements for competitive majors.

Parents Weekend 2013

Register online or mail in your registration by September 16 and qualify for the Early Bird drawing for Parents Weekend. We will draw from among all those registering by 4 p.m., Monday, September 16, for a Minnesota Mom or Dad t-shirt from the University Bookstore. (Those who have already registered are already qualified for the drawing.) There are a couple of pre-Parents Weekend events on Thursday, October 17, but the weekend officially begins Friday, October 18, and continues through Sunday, October 20. Friday activities focus on workshops that will help you understand and support your student's experience, plus receptions hosted by the university's colleges. See the schedule for details, and register soon.

Common Reading

Two colleges within the University have assigned common reading books to incoming students, and parents are invited to read the books as well.

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) asked students to read Kao Kalia Yang's The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir. In the book, Yang recounts her family's escape from Laos to a refugee camp in Thailand and their journey to St. Paul, MN. The Latehomecomer pays tribute to the woman at the heart of Yang's family—her grandmother—and illuminates the transition to life in America and the family's establishment of a new home. Yang will be at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on Tuesday evening, 7 p.m., October 29, to speak with CEHD students and the larger community about the book and related topics. Yang's book is also the Minneapolis Institute of Arts November selection for its monthly book tours. Docents will lead groups of first-year students on guided tours of selected pieces in the MIA collection that address themes in Yang's memoir. 

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) selected The Round House by Louise Erdrich, the story of a young man, Joe, whose life is disrupted by a horrible crime that profoundly changes his life. In this book, Erdrich invites readers into the world of the Turtle Mountain Ojibwe and challenges readers to examine their own thoughts about family and community and to reflect on the nature of justice. Erdrich lives in Minneapolis and owns Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore near Lake of the Isles.

A Question for the U of M Chief of Police

A parent recently asked if her daughter could have pepper spray as a defensive tool, or is it against U of M policy or state law? Assistant Vice President of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Greg Hestness, offered this response:

The Regents policy refers to firearms or dangerous weapons as defined by state statute. Pepper spray is not defined as a dangerous weapon, so carrying pepper spray is not prohibited on campus. At the right moment, pepper spray can be useful for self-defense, but there are several caveats about it, and it is not a panacea:

  • In most cases, by the time danger is recognized, there is little chance to dig through a purse or coat pocket to find the spray. You have to be prepared to act, and hyper-vigilance is hard to maintain. It is also not a great (emotional and physical) state to be in at all times.
  • It is more important to be aware of your surroundings. This is quite a safe campus, but we are in an urban setting, and it's important to be alert. For students, that means judgment about where and when they go places, having companions with them at night, not being overly distracted with cell phones or iPods, and not over-indulging in alcohol.
  • If a person decides to use pepper spray, don't equivocate. The possibility of losing the spray to an assailant is there, and the spray can be turned on the owner. 
  • Pepper spray will not affect or disable everyone. It is best, when you think trouble is coming, to avoid danger, go another way, or go to a lighted business or building. If you cannot avoid trouble and the spray is used, don't stick around to see what happened. Use the opportunity to get away quickly.
  • If you are in fear in a situation, call 911. University Police and/or Minneapolis Police will respond. It's OK to call.
  • Use the Security Monitor Escort Service any time, or the Gopher Chauffeur service on weekends, rather than walking alone.
  • Pepper spray can be a tool in the tool box, but students need to understand it is not the first or the best option. Having it should not make a student  complacent or forget the more effective and common-sense steps.


If you want to see the pace picking up this week on campus, here is the link to the College of Science & Engineering's webcam on Northrop Mall. You may see a gaggle of students following behind a leader wearing a brightly colored t-shirt. That will be a Welcome Week group.

Please respond to our Parent Question of the Month.