Over the next few days, more than 9,000 alumni, parents and community members will congregate at UR for Meliora Weekend. This year marks the third year in which alumni weekend, family weekend and the Stonehurst Regatta will be held at the same time, and this year’s festivities promise to be the biggest and best so far.
The idea of combining all these events into one celebration was put into action during the sesquicentennial commemoration during the fall of 2000. “The weekend went so well and was so successful we decided to continue holding these events together,” Dean for College Advancement Robert Bartlett said.
In preparation for this weekend’s festivities, it has been necessary for offices across campus to coordinate. “Meliora Weekend is a major activity for the university,” Director of Security Walter Mauldin said. “The largest challenge is having a lot of activities over just a few days.”
Among concerns for security is the sheer volume of guests that will be at the university in addition to the already large student, faculty and staff populations. The Rochester fire marshal has been advising security throughout the planning process.
While security does not expect many problems, according to Mauldin, it is important to be prepared to prevent any possible emergencies. As part of the preventative measures being taken, security will have many extra staff on at all major activities.
Some guests will be accompanied by their own security staff. “As a former first lady, [Senator Hillary Clinton] will have a small secret service contingent to allow her to move about safely,” Mauldin said.
Author Salman Rushdie presents a particular concern because of his controversial novel “Satanic Verses.” In 1989, Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini placed a fatwa ? death threat ? on Rushdie as a result of its publication. The fatwa was effectively rescinded in 1998 and Rushdie came out of hiding.
In an effort to ensure Rushdie’s safety, security declined to comment on the measures being taken to protect him.
Mauldin also noted that communication is key in order for the weekend to run smoothly. Security officers and staff will be equipped with radios allowing them to keep in contact with each other, and will also link them to other offices including MERT and university parking.
“The Rochester Police Department will also be assisting during some events,” Mauldin said.
Preparation has also been important for dining services. Dining halls will be open regular hours, however additional staff will be needed to handle of the volume of people expected this weekend. Many ARAMARK employees will also be sent to help the staff of the Meliora, who will be catering many events this weekend.
“Additional employees will be needed to help with events throughout the weekend,” Office Manager of Dining Services Amie Miller said. “People from other ARAMARK business units throughout the area will also be brought in to help.”
Parking is another concern that has required a lot of planning. In an effort to ease the parking situation, parking services has arranged a shuttle service that will run between the university and selected hotels. “The shuttles will run between the university and five or six hotels where the university reserved blocks of rooms,” River Campus Parking Coordinator Nancy Dailey said.
The shuttles will run in a continual loop with each bus serving only one hotel, making service fast with stops about every twenty minutes.
Along with all normal campus lots available for Meliora Weekend guests, additional parking will be provided on River Road. “There will be two different lots that can accommodate several hundred cars,” Dailey said.
The theme for this year’s Meliora Weekend is leadership and it will be highlighted by speakers from various fields including Clinton and CNN founder Ted Turner. Also on the schedule for the weekend are lectures regarding racial and cultural issues by Earl Graves and Rushdie.
The events to be held this Meliora Weekend are not limited to informational presentations. A variety of entertainment will also be featured. Jon Stewart, a noted comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” will be holding two Friday night performances, the second added due to popular demand. Student talents will also be on display in “Rochester Sings,” “Rochester Revue” and “Dance3” among other campus group performances.
With registration beginning in the summer, over 2,000 students have already registered for Meliora Weekend. Large numbers of parents, alumni and UR community members have helped to boost registration numbers well over last year’s total turnout. Bartlett cites the wide range of Meliora Weekend attendees as what makes it so great. “[Meliora Weekend] is truly a campus community event. Segments from all constituencies come together. That is what makes the event so unique,” said Bartlett.
Students and attendees who have already signed up for the weekend’s events can pick up registration materials beginning Thursday Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. until noon on Sunday at the registration area in Wilson Commons. On site registration is available, however, many events have already been booked to capacity.
With the number of attendees so high and such a full schedule of events, Meliora Weekend promises to be a busy one. “People should enjoy [the festivities],” said Mauldin. “Just allow some time to get to the events, and plan on doing some walking.”
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