The traditional Walk to the Whirlpool is a highlight of Niagara University's New Student Orientation.

Niagara University welcomed more than 700 incoming freshmen and transfer students to its Lewiston campus Aug. 27-29, 2021, with an engaging, exciting, and informational New Student Orientation program that incorporated a number of university traditions and introduced them to the opportunities available to them.

The weekend began as the new students moved into their campus residence halls with the assistance of returning student leaders and community advisors. After posing for the university’s “Human NU” photo and participating in a PurplePride Convocation, the students took part in a beloved university tradition, the Walk to Whirlpool. This was the 10th year of the event, during which students walk together from Niagara’s campus along the Niagara Scenic Parkway pedestrian path to Whirlpool State Park, where they enjoyed a Chiavetta’s barbeque dinner. More than 20 university departments sponsored welcome stations to meet and greet the students as they walked. Students also participated in an interactive diversity, equality, and inclusion program, and the day ended with a moonlight bingo event that offered over $500 in prizes.

Day two of the orientation program began with a morning of informational sessions from the offices of Equity and Inclusion, Residence Life, and Campus Safety, after which students had the opportunity to participate in one of six area attractions, including the Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, a self-guided walk of Center Street in Lewiston, and a Niagara Gorge hike led by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. That evening, the students enjoyed activities that included an open skate event at the university’s Dwyer Arena and a silent disco headphone party.

New Niagara University students pose in a Human NU

New Purple Eagles pose in a "Human NU."

The orientation continued on Sunday with a variety of social and traditional programming. During the day, more than 300 students participated in fun and competitive events outside the Kiernan Recreation Center, and that evening, a “Mass on the Grass” was celebrated on the university’s front lawn.  Niagara University’s president, the Rev. James Maher, C.M., presided.

The program concluded with an event for both new and returning students that included a student club and organization fair, a live DJ, food, and a beer tent for those of age. A spectacular firework display wrapped up the weekend for the more than 800 students in attendance.

“The primary goal for our orientation program is to provide a variety of inclusive opportunities for new students to learn about various aspects of university life from current student leaders, university staff, and the campus community,” said Bill Newton, assistant director of Campus Activities. “Programs are designed specifically to help new students connect with one another so they can begin to make friends and be comfortable on Monteagle Ridge. We are extremely proud of our program and think it sets our new students up to be successful.”

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