Meliora Weekend: the University’s three-day-long event intended to celebrate alumni, current students, and their families. Everyone knows the feeling of deja vu that comes from a first sighting of the influx of event staff on Wilson Quad and the massive “MELIORA” letters set in front of Rush Rhees.
To the fresh-faced first years,the sheer number of people on campus and dodge alumni on golf carts may be overwhelming, but they’ll catch up quickly. The general student population began buzzing about Meliora Weekend as soon as registration opened and guests were announced. The 2023 Meliora Weekend boasted big names such as Renée Elise Goldsberry of Hamilton fame, stand-up comedian Hasan Minhaj, and award-winning author and feminist speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. These guest speakers also caused a bit of their own controversy on campus, as students debated over who the school should invite in lieu of some speakers’ personal ideologies.
Many things could be said about Meliora Weekend and its festivities, but rather than hear it from me, take it from other UR students (and some alumni).With many students still juggling their own responsibilities amidst the festivities, Meliora Weekend can be stressful. Students working at the Campus Information Center (CIC) desk in Wilson Commons commended the organization of event staff for making their day jobs as easy as possible given the circumstances.
“Actually, Mel Weekend isn’t as bad as Welcome Week was,” said junior Renee Taillie , who works at the CIC desk. “This is a lot more organized than Welcome Week. Sometimes people don’t understand that you have to like, check in, even for the stuff that’s free.”
This clueless reporter would have to agree: The registration for events is possibly the most confusing aspect of Meliora Weekend for those who aren’t familiar. To gain access to all the events throughout the weekend, everyone is required to register online or in Hirst Lounge and receive a lanyard with a QR code, which will be scanned upon entry to events and Meliora Village, which holds residence on Wilson Quad. This means no cutting across the Village to get to your campus destination; much to the chagrin of students on their daily commute across Wilson Quad.
Alumni often come back to campus during Meliora Weekend, specifically those celebrating their class reunions and receiving awards or recognitions. Alumnus Conor McNamara ‘14 attended because he is set to receive the Department of Chemical Engineering’s 2023 Young Alumni Award for using his chemical engineering degree after graduation at Anheuser-Busch, giving back to the University, and volunteering.
McNamara came to Mel Weekend with his friends Zamantha ‘13 and Val Lopez ‘14 who were looking forward to their 10th class reunion and reconnecting with old friends, respectively. The Lopez siblings also have a younger sister who attended the University.
“We haven’t been back since COVID and I think just reconnecting and seeing everybody, and just enjoying being back!” Zamantha said when asked what they’re looking forward to the most.
All three were a part of the Meridian program during their time at UR, and were also in the mariachi band, Mariachi Meliora. For those curious, McNamara played accordion, Zamantha played violin, and Val played a type of mariachi guitar known as a vihuela. The Lopezes and McNamara really emphasized the lasting community at the University, which they enjoy returning to each year.
When it comes to events of interest, the sold-out Hasan Minhaj show was a popular event with most students and alumni I spoke to, whether they were able to snag tickets or not.
“I was like, ‘Guys, we have to go to that! We cannot let it sell out,’” Zamantha said when asked if her group would be attending the evening show.
Reunions are another key feature of Meliora Weekend, with many campus groups hosting reunions with their alumni to showcase the organizations’ current undertakings. Just a glance at the weekend’s itinerary shows several reunions for classes, clubs, fraternities, and sororities.
One of such reunion events is Alpha Phi’s largest philanthropy events of the academic year. The Alpha Phi Red Dress Gala is an event put on by the Mu Lambda chapter to raise money for women’s heart health through the Alpha Phi Foundation. The Red Dress Gala is Alpha Phi’s largest philanthropy event of the fall semester.
When asked about what they enjoy about Mel Weekend and what they’d change, senior Imaan Salimi responded that she’s excited to see friends who have graduated.
“I also appreciate the effort they put into the food at the dining halls,” Salimi said, and her peers laughed and agreed.
Junior Maggie Syrett said “a lot of things I feel like you have to pay for, which is ironic because we’re paying so much to be here already.”
All in all, most students and returning alumni found entertainment at Meliora Weekend, whether it be at reunions, in the dining halls, or in Meliora Village. Our school spirit is thickest in the atmosphere this weekend, and no matter your opinions on the guests or event management, you cannot deny Meliora Weekend feels as though our metaphorical hive is full and buzzing with life.