With the much-anticipated Meliora Weekend beginning today, there is a great deal of excitement in the brisk Rochester air. Over the past couple of months, thousands of students, alumni, faculty, families and friends have been registering and preparing for this annual event.

This year’s celebration is dedicated to the theme of leadership and will feature such guests as Ted Turner, Bill Bennett, Hillary Clinton, Jeffrey Bleustein and Jon Stewart, while also showcasing countless student groups and many of UR’s accomplishments.

Meliora Weekend is a relatively new tradition at the university, and it blossomed from the 2000 Sesquicentennial Celebration, which combined Reunion, Homecoming, Family Weekend and Regatta in an effort to create an encompassing weekend that everyone would be a part of.

The idea was a great success. The guest list to the university’s 150 birthday included over 7,000 people, and celebrants showed anyone who might have forgotten what UR pride and spirit are all about.

The success of this spectacular weekend prompted the decision to establish a new tradition of celebration, and Meliora Weekend was launched. A new tradition was created.

University traditions express values, interests and experiences that are passed down from one class and inherited by the next. They give members of the UR community a common heritage and language.

They also act as a guide through the unfamiliar. When people hit obstacles, the first direction they usually turn to for help is their traditions and previous experiences. For this reason, a strong sense of tradition is truly invaluable. Meliora Weekend has become one of UR’s greatest traditions.

During this weekend, current students act as ambassadors, representing the school to their families, community members and alumni.

This is an important task, for it allows others to see the vibrant UR community in full motion as it is today. Alumni also are able to reconnect to the student body and discover new traditions that instill the same values that were in place when they attended. Immersed in student activity, alumni will also remember what it was like back when they were students at the university. Seeing how the university is now will reinvigorate their memories of the ways things used to be.

One of the most amazing aspects of this weekend is the multitude of ways people connect through the UR community. Friends and families probably do not come to Meliora Weekend because of the Rochester weather or on-campus food.

They come for the people and in support of the institution. This weekend gives participants opportunities to spend time and share experiences, while enjoying and contributing to the pride and traditions of UR.

In a similar manner, alumni are most likely attracted to Meliora Weekend because of the amazing college experience they had, and because of the strong sense of identity they still have with the UR community and its traditions.

As people continue to identify with their traditions, the traditions become time-honored. As a result, there is a powerful drive to take part in the UR experience time and time again.

Incorporated in these shared values and experiences that make up the UR tradition are the university’s diverse student groups and organizations, the pursuit of knowledge and learning, and most important, its people. Most students have participated with their families, bonding with them while sharing UR traditions. This sense was very visible at such events including the Rochester Revue.

The event showcases student talent through music, dance and celebration for parents, alumni and university friends to enjoy. Meliora Weekend connects people together so they can share in the UR’s rich wealth of tradition.

The weekend will continue to grow as students who participate in the weekend come back as alumni.

Consequently, future fund-raising and other university events will be more successful because alumni will have a revitalized image of the school and their shared experiences.

Through Meliora Weekend, students, alumni, faculty, friends and families are brought together not only to celebrate the University, but also to share in its traditions.

It is these inherited common values, interests and experiences that provide a framework for the weekend and for the rest of our lives. As students, these traditions are ours to pass on as we go beyond the immediate family at the UR.

Goldhagen is a sophomore, Meliora Weekend Student Programming co-chair and can be reached at bgoldhagen@campustimes.org.

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