By Holly Feola & Casey Dibari – News Editor & Opinion Editor
Lasell kicked off the school year in September with a celebratory Lasell U-Belong event in the Arnow Quad to commemorate the institution’s new university status. The event started with Assistant Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer Jesse Tauriac and a panel of community members welcoming attendees to the event, saying how everyone belonged at Lasell.
A few of those people among the panel were Helena Santos, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Academic Success, junior Dylan Alves, and a Lasell Village resident. If one of the members was bilingual, they would say why they belonged at Lasell in their native language and translate it into English.
When Stephanie Williams, Director of Lasell Works, talked about the start of the event she said, “it was this gorgeous representation of all of the different people roles, backgrounds and cultures that play a part in being in our community and how you can exist in so many different ways and still belong here.”
The quad was filled with a variety of attractions from giant inflatables, caricature drawings and sumo wrestling suits to an assortment of food options for everyone to enjoy.
The event had many stations such as nachos, macaroni & cheese, papaya and liquid nitrogen desserts. In addition, they also had food and ice cream trucks. Students were able to sit down and listen to music as they enjoyed their food.
Sophomore Elliette Barrows attended the celebration with her friends. She shared her favorite part about the event. “It had so much energy and they had so much stuff here. I have never seen anything this big and have this many people in attendance [at Lasell],” said Barrows.
Senior Gabby Miller thought the event was a great introduction for the new year. “It was something that was unexpected of Lasell and it brought a new energy to campus. It was the first time since being here in the past three years that I felt there was a strong community feeling,” said Miller.
According to Tauriac, the event came to be after President Michael Alexander approached him last spring and asked him if he could put it together.
When asked why he thought this event was important, Tauriac said, “I think that so many of us feel that we belong here but we feel it in different ways for different reasons, and so just for people to have an opportunity to express that and what that means for them is incredibly powerful.”
Tauriac also said the event brought together people from various backgrounds, such as age, majors and race. “Lasell is a community comprised of folks who are passionate about one another, about education and about fostering an environment where everyone feels that they belong.”
Bringing the event together wasn’t a one man show. Tauriac credits Director of Dining Services Michael Quakenbush for overseeing the food, as well as former Assistant Director of Student Activities Sara Richardson and seniors Kate Kennedy and Corey Zemke. The group helped come up with the ideas while Tauriac oversaw the events and the logistics.
Kennedy, President of the Campus Activities Board, and Zemke, a former Student Government Association member, explained that the event was inspired by the annual Spring Week Carnival, but on a larger scale. “[The Administration] knew the students wanted something like that to kick off the year,” Kennedy said.
Because they are well-known to the student body, Kennedy and Zemke were chosen to help put on this event. Tauriac and Richard- son looked to Zemke and Kennedy to verbalize what other students would enjoy.
When discussing adjustments for future events Tauriac said, “what’s most important to me, regardless of what’s done is that students, employees, Lasell Village residents and their families walk away knowing that they belong here and I definitely want to be creative about planning ways to convey that.”