No more moving mayhem

Volunteers help carry the load during Move-in Day

The start of the school year at SDSU has been enhanced as a means of welcoming students so they feel more comfortable in their new home.

It’s all part of a plan to provide a positive experience for freshmen and other students who live on campus. The fact that the entire process makes it easier on Dad’s aching back is just an added bonus.

Move-in Day at SDSU, the first Saturday before the start of classes, is far more than throwing open the doors at the residence halls and letting students haul in their belongings. It’s now a weeks-long event that draws resources from across campus as part of the University’s effort to ensure student success.

“If we get them involved within the first three weeks, they’re more likely to stay,” says Connie Crandall, director of Residential Life. “They have that positive experience of connecting with other students and SDSU.”

Word about the positive experience seems to be spreading. About 3,700 students are housed on campus and Crandall estimates that 80 to 85 percent of them showed up for Move-in Day in 2010.

“It means they want to get involved in the campus activities,” Crandall says.

Volunteers do the heavy lifting

The most visible aspect of Move-in Day is a small army of volunteers in blue Meet State T-shirts who add their muscle and campus expertise to a day that can be tiring and confusing for students and their parents.

There were 269 volunteers on hand to greet students on Move-in Day in 2010. Their duties vary:

• They drive golf carts, shuttling students and their parents from the parking lots to the residence halls.

• On hot days they man a tent giving out free bottles of water.

• They direct traffic.

Perhaps the assistance that’s most welcomed by the students and their families is the help that volunteers provide carrying suitcases, tote boxes, large TVs and small refrigerators up stairs to the students’ new homes.

“Volunteers take belongings up to their rooms so we can move residents in easily and fast,” Crandall says.

While many of the events are meant to welcome freshmen, Move-in Day services are offered to any student who lives on campus.

Crew includes the Chicoines

Traditionally, President David Chicoine ’69 and his wife, Marcia ’71, are among the Move-in Day volunteers whose ranks also include faculty and staff, Alumni Association staff, student-athletes, and students from campus organizations.

“It’s really helped having all the campus organizations come together to help,” Crandall says.

According to Crandall, who has thirty years of experience at Residential Life, the reviews for Move-in Day have been positive.

“Parents say, ‘We’ve heard horror stories about moving in day at other universities, but this was easy,’” Crandall says. “They act surprised sometimes at how fast and easy move-in was.”

Welcome to the house

Once they’re moved in, students learn that half of each dorm floor is designated as a “house.” One of their first gatherings is a mandatory meeting at which they meet the other members of their house and the community assistant, a fellow student who lives in the house as a peer adviser for students.

“Right away they spend some time meeting the people in their house and their community assistant, who may give them tours of the campus to help them find their classrooms,” Crandall says.

Beyond the actual moving in, there are plenty of campus entities involved in that first weekend including the bookstore, Admissions, Aramark food service, and the University Program Council.

A picnic for students and their parents is held Saturday evening. Sunday’s highlight is the HEROH dance near Jackrabbit Village that’s sponsored by the Helping Everyone Reach Optimum Health program at the Wellness Center.

Monday’s events kick off with the Campus Community Fall Festival where as many as 100 booths offer information about campus organizations and the services offered by Brookings businesses.

“We want them to get to know our campus community, as well as the Brookings community,” says Jennifer Novotny, director of the University Student Union and chair of the Meet State Committee.

On Monday afternoon freshmen gather for a convocation followed by a picnic, concert, inflatables, and a movie.

“Much of the campus community is involved in these campus events,” Novotny says.

‘Weekend STUFF,’ discount card get students involved

Move-in Day is just one small part of what has become an extended orientation process at SDSU that runs from students’ campus visits in June and July through the first nine weeks of the semester.

“We want them to know that this is their home away from home,” Novotny says. “That process kind of stretches out quite a ways.”

After students are moved in, the weekends that follow are filled with “Weekend STUFF events” that provide a diversity of activities for students to participate in and enjoy.

According to Novotny, there’s something for everyone in the line-up of events that range from movies to concerts, grocery bingo to open mike night, and so much more.

“It’s really an extension of our University’s orientation program,” Novotny says. “It’s important to connect with students in a variety of ways and help them feel welcome.”

One of those ways is through a special discount program called the Meet State Card that freshmen can use at campus outlets like the museums, meat lab, dairy bar, and the bookstore in an effort to get them out and about on campus.

“Last year was very successful,” Novotny says of the discount card usage. “It’s really about trying to help them connect with the campus community and get to know their home away from home.”

Welcoming more than 3,000 students to campus and helping them feel right at home is a big job that’s destined to get bigger. Plans are in the works for 800 additional beds on campus scheduled to be ready by Move-in Day 2013.


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