Saint Leo University's main campus was filled with students hugging their hellos, finding their classrooms, and learning what is in store for the new academic year as classes officially began August 21.

More than 2,100 traditional undergraduates are studying at University Campus this fall, with more than 1,400 living on campus. First-year and transfer students moved in on August 16.

Dr. Moneque Walker-Pickett, professor of criminal justice, introduced her students to CRM 300, a special topics class about criminal punishment through the ages. It's a new course she created, which will discuss the development of due process. Throughout history, there have been different codes of conduct and different ideas about punishment for crimes.

Saint Leo students will learn about the Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, and laws in the Middle Ages, and on through modern times. "And hopefully, it's going to be a lot of fun," Walker-Pickett said. 

One of her goals is to not only teach the students about crime and punishment, but also, "to prepare you for real life and get you up and speaking in front of people," she said. Since many criminal justice students will work in legal fields and could be called to testify, being able to talk to people is a necessity. And communication is key to most professions.

To break the ice and get her students talking, Walker-Pickett engaged them in a game of "I Have Never Ever. . ."

"This is a clean version," she advised.

The students introduced themselves, stated where they are from, and listed something they had never done. Some of the responses included: "I have never ever eaten an onion." "I have never ever seen snow." "I have never ever been to a gun range." "I have never ever been to Europe."

In the United States History to 1865 (HTY 121) course, Dr. Dan DuBois, assistant professor of history, first made sure his students were comfortable with the D2L learning management system so they can find their coursework, quizzes, and more. "There's a bunch of cool stuff that will help immerse you in the subject," DuBois said.

The class will be using Give Me Liberty! by Eric Foner as its textbook, he added.

Unlike some history courses, DuBois said the class will not have to memorize a lot of names and dates. "But you will have to remember some," he said. "Names and dates represent a huge significance in American history. We'll start in 1491, and we'll look at what kind of civilization and what kind of culture existed in North America."

The course has a different kind of mission, DuBois said. "Major events not only shaped that world, but still shape the world we live in today. We're going to study human behavior from a variety of different angles." 

It's a history course that includes different disciplines including business, education, governance, science, and pseudo-sciences, he said. And it will look at kindness, compassion, and tolerance as well as greed and hate throughout American history.

Life at Saint Leo is not all about studying, and student ministers from University Ministry were busy feeding the student body— Munchkins® from Dunkin' Donuts. From a table outside of Saint Jude Chapel, the young women beckoned students, new and returning, to have a doughnut to start their first day of classes. They also were excited by University Ministry sponsoring its first concert.

"Kirkchella," a play on the popular Coachella festival in California, will take place from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, August 30, outside of Kirk Hall. The stage will be next to Saint Jude Chapel. "It's our first-ever concert," said Mary Peacock, a junior majoring in elementary education. "Several students will be performing. It will be a chance to display their talents and get people to meet each other."

In addition to being the first day of classes, August 21 marked the beginning of Saint Leo's Weeks of Welcome, sponsored by Student Activities. There will be on-campus and off-campus activities sponsored by the Campus Activities Board and Greek Life.