With roughly 43,000 students enrolled, the University of Michigan has better ways to entertain their students than the typical academic schedule. Impressive guest lectures, break dancing and carnival games in the middle of the Diag guarantee that a Wolverine’s college experience isn’t shaped solely by lecture halls and science labs. Before the school year starts, mark your calendars and stay in the loop with these 10 can’t miss events.
1. First Home Football Game of the Year
The smell of fresh grass, the feel of sweaty strangers and the ear-shattering chants of “Go Blue!” mark the beginning of every football season. Students get to celebrate touchdowns in the toasty fall weather without being bogged down by the chains of homework and responsibilities…yet. The Big House is vibrant with drunken happiness as fans and students cluster together, anticipating the beginning of a winning season.
Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a junior looking to branch out, Festifall is your destination for student org heaven. With over 1,400 clubs, finding a group of students who love (or hate) the same things that you do shouldn’t be too hard; choose wisely. For one day, Michigan students swarm the Central Campus Diag to socialize, network and plan for the start of the new year’s social calendar.
3. Welcome Week
If you want to kick off the school year on a high note, you have to go to a Welcome Week event. At the beginning of fall semester there’s a schedule packed with activities like Escapade in the Michigan Union or Go Blue Mix in Ingalls Mall. Expect raffle games, tons of free food and opportunities to meet new people. You don’t even have to stick to the roster of university events, either; there are endless parties and mixers hosted by clubs and Greek life all over campus for your mingling pleasure.
When the winter vortex quiets down and the weather starts to brighten up, so does the fun. SpringFest is a compilation of a day’s worth of events hosted by the University of Michigan’s Music Matters organization. Music Matters is dedicated to instilling the importance of music, philanthropy and community by hosting an SXSW-style event with a concert to cap off the night. For SpringFest 2015, rapper Common performed at Hill Auditorium to a crowd of excited students and all of the proceeds went to a camp for underserved Detroit youth.
5. Black Homecoming
A couple weeks after football’s homecoming game, student organizations Sister 2 Sister and H.E.A.D.S throw a homecoming party to celebrate the university’s black student accomplishments. With a crowning of Ms. Maize and Mr. Blue, Black Homecoming brings the old-school dance vibes to college, while illustrating the importance of increasing diversity on campus.
6. Men’s Glee Club Spring Concert
Who doesn’t love well-dressed men who can sing like angels? The University of Michigan’s Men’s Glee Club sang its way into students’ hearts in 1859, and their chorus group of powerhouse voices have mesmerized crowds ever since. Singing an eclectic mix of genres, from opera to Michigan-bred anthems, the April concert is the Michigan Difference at its finest.
7. Guest Lecturers
Interspersed throughout the school year are a mix of guest lecturers who come to drop mind-blowing knowledge on our overworked brains. Including Mary B. Graubard, Executive Director of Fashion & Beauty at W Magazine and President Barack Obama, academic departments and student orgs have hosted guest lecturers that students truly admire. Last year, I attended a Zora Neale Hurston lecture with novelist and activist Alice Walker running the show. The opportunity to hear Walker speak was like eating on Thanksgiving day—I couldn’t get enough.
8. Maize Craze
Too bored to function? Maize Craze is the remedy. Football is the connecting vein of all Wolverines and Maize Craze exemplifies why that’s the case. Filled with students, athletes, music and tons of pictures, this rally pumps students up for the Night Football Game the next day. Unaware that Maize Craze was happening one afternoon, I walked through the Diag to go to the library and found myself taking a picture with a robotic man. Moral of the story: Go to Maize Craze.
9. Poetry Slam
Get your thumbs ready because you’ll be snapping away at the UM Poetry Slam. Hearing the smooth voices of these speakers is like taking an audible journey through their minds. This event caters to the lovers of spoken word, as writers perform their pieces to a crowd for a chance to go on to the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.
10. Musket Theater
Sitting at home and watching a film on Netflix is great (and highly recommended), but nothing comes close to watching a classic story play out on stage. University of Michigan’s Musket is a dedicated team of thespians who put on shows in the fall and winter terms that will leave you in awe. After attending their rendition of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, I demanded to know why acting and singing weren’t skills in my repertoire.