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From the Old Well to the Dean Dome — Heel Hunt welcomes new students to campus

Students in masks walk past the old well on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.

Learning the lay of the land on UNC's campus is a rite of passage for every first-year — and even a pandemic can't stop the tradition. 

The Tar Heel Beginnings Board held a two-week virtual “Heel Hunt” event to introduce first-year and transfer students to campus in a safe and interactive way.

Traditionally, the event is held in person. But due to the pandemic, the hunt transitioned to a multi-phase find-and-seek game in the GooseChase app. Students could form teams, see clues and submit photo solutions. This switch allowed for students both on and off campus to participate. 

“The point of the event is to introduce students to campus in a fun and interactive way,” Josh Howard, UNC senior and a chairperson of the Tar Heel Beginnings Board, said. “With COVID restrictions, the new goal was to help students meet each other, learn about campus and see its landmarks while staying safe.”

The event was held during the Week of Welcome at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. About 50 teams participated in the fall, and seven teams participated this spring, Howard said. The Tar Heel Beginnings Board encouraged participation through social media and emails. 

“A big intention for Heel Hunt was encouraging students to research their resources on campus,” Adrianna Rizzi, a Tar Heel Beginnings board member, said. “Especially for off-campus students to learn about resources they don’t know about because they aren’t here every day.”

The event helped students become acquainted with resources such as Academic Advising and the Writing Center, along with campus landmarks like the Old Well and the Dean Smith Center. The GooseChase app enabled interactive participation in an easy-to-use format.

“I met six or seven new people, and some of them I still talk to,” first-year UNC student Julia Straight said. “I didn't really know campus before because the New Student Orientation was canceled, so it was a good way to walk around campus and get to know all the major landmarks.”

The Tar Heel Beginnings Board is made up of 12 student leaders. They work throughout the year to plan events and activities for first-year and transfer students to create a sense of community among new students and welcome them to campus.