By TreDarius Hayes
Move-In Day 2015 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville was a great time for everyone alike: freshmen, returners, families, and staff. We welcomed over 4700 new incoming students here at the University of Tennessee in what has been our largest freshmen class to date. We are so excited to have so many people join us and become a part of the great tradition of being a Tennessee Vol!
On Saturday, August 15, doors opened at UT’s residence halls as early as 7am. Families lugged in trips and trips of clothes, furniture, and other necessities as their students eagerly stepped on a college campus about to embark on a new journey. The looks on the new student’s faces said it all: they were both excited…and nervous. Excited because it’s the first time many of the students will be away from home for so long. They’re looking forward to all of the newfound freedom, meeting lots of new people, and just making the most of their experience. Then they’re nervous because of all of the new responsibilities that come with living on your own, the fear of possibly not fitting in, and not being able to make the most of their experience. But as they enter our halls, we see many of those nervous faces turn into full excitement.
As families unloaded their cars, they were greeted by volunteers who were ready to help the students move in. Volunteers included students, alumni, administrators, staff, organizations, and the local Knoxville community. All of our volunteers unselfishly gave up their entire Saturday to help move in our freshman class. This has been a tradition here at UT to have so many people come and help you move in for a while now. Volunteers helped me move in my freshman year. It’s just another way to see that people really do care about you at UT and they want you to succeed. And if there’s ever any doubt about that, ask our new students and they will tell you that having volunteers help move them in make the transition a little smoother.
For check-in this year, our staff tried some new things. As the students walked in, they were greeted by our desk staffed workers. The desk was mainly run by Office Assistants this year, who primarily work in the day time and late at night in our halls. They checked each student in with their VolCard, and then directed the students upstairs to get their key. This year, Resident Assistants handed out keys once a student checked in. Resident Assistants are upperclassmen peer mentors that live on the floor with residents to assist in community development, mediate conflicts, connect residents to any resources they may need, and assist residents with any concerns they may have. Resident Assistants are our leaders on the floor as they promote unity, personal development, academic success, and safety.
This change in the way students received their keys was highly appreciated. Residents were able to meet their Resident Assistant from the moment they moved in to get a great head start on a good relationship. Our Resident Assistants value having great relationships with their residents because it makes the year that much more an incredible experience when they can connect with the students living in our halls. And meeting them on the first day helps out everyone involved.
This is my second year of being a Resident Assistant, so I’ve seen Move-In Day go a completely different way. The way we did it last year had us in shifts and different stations, so sometimes we couldn’t see our residents come in. But this year was great because I was able to meet everyone as soon as they walked in. It was a great way to make a good first impression. What I liked most was that they had to come into my room to get a key. That’s great because many times, residents are afraid to come into our rooms. So to get them in there on the first day and see that we’re not so scary and it’s okay to come visit when they need something or just want to talk was the most rewarding thing I got from move-in day. I have already been able to establish such good relationships in a short amount of time and I believe that Move-In Day this year helped tremendously with that.
So to all of the new students: our staff and whole community really do care about you. Hopefully whatever fears and perceptions you had about college will soon all disappear as you find out what college is really about. Some advice would be to get out there and see what it has to offer. Get to know as many people as you can. Spend time with your floormates and your RA. Sign up to join clubs and get involved on campus. These next few years will be, and believe me, the best years of your life, so make the most out of it. We at University Housing are always happy to assist you in this transition.
Welcome home, Vols!
“What I like best about living on campus is how affordable it is to live so close to class and your friends.”