By Josette Keelor
WINCHESTER -- College freshmen who moved into residence halls at Shenandoah University during Tuesday's Move-in Day breezed through their first big steps on campus.
Helped by about 300 volunteers, new students and their parents unpacked cars within minutes, allowing for a long line of other cars to quickly take their place alongside greetings of "welcome home."
Freshman Moriah Woods of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, arrived Sunday but joined other members from the field hockey team in assisting fellow first years as they arrived on campus.
"I had to do all this by myself, so I bet they appreciate it," she said.
The speedy morning move-in gave freshman Emily Tomimatsu of Los Angeles more time to talk with her new lacrosse coach, Lindsey Lutz, who recruited more new players than usual for the upcoming season.
Expecting 17 first-year team member, instead of the usual 10, she has "very high hopes" for this year's team and said Tomimatsu traveled the farthest to be there.
This year's freshmen class represents 26 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the countries of China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia, said Director of Media Relations Emily Burner. The top three represented states are Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Campus residence halls house 918 students, but currently the school is beyond capacity, according to Rhonda VanDyke Colby, vice president for student life. An additional 14 students will be housed in the nearby Aloft hotel until space becomes available on campus.
First-year students have their choice of four residence halls: Funkhouser and Gore, Parker and Racey. Upperclassmen can apply to stay on campus at East Campus Commons, Edwards Residential Village, Romine Living Center and University Inn, or off campus at Solenberger Hall.
Downtown Winchester housing is available for students 21 and older who meet community service requirements.
Colby said part of living on campus means progressing not only academically but also developmentally. For freshmen, it's learning roommate etiquette, doing their own laundry and meeting other students. Freshmen halls feature a common bathroom, and sophomore housing a bathroom shared between two rooms, which sophomores are expected to clean.
New residence hall kitchens have added to the allure of on-campus housing for juniors and seniors no longer required to live on campus. Upgrades have been made to other residence halls, too, including University Inn, a former hotel that now has a renovated lobby and first-floor corridor.
Tuesday's Move-in Day also provided administrators and staff the opportunity of testing emergency responses through the Incident Command System, a part of the campus Emergency Operations Plan that Colby said has been "quietly in place" in previous years. The planning and execution of Move-in Day provided an opportunity to use the command structure during a non-crisis event.
Colby, who was carrying a portable radio Tuesday to keep in contact with the command system while directing traffic, said students are also trained to carry out emergency responses.
"I don't know of many other colleges where every single RA [resident assistant] and RD [resident director] has a certificate in incident command systems ... from [FEMA's] National Incident Management System, so that was a huge change for us today, this year," she said.
"Once they're trained, you don't want it to just sit on the shelf," she said. It's important to "practice it in non-emergency situations, so that's what we're doing today."
For information on the school's Emergency Operations Plan, visit http://tiny.cc/5bxukx and click the link for Emergency Preparedness to open an online pdf document. Contact the university at 540-665-4500 or at http://www.su.edu.
Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org>