Monday, August 18, 2008

'Moving In" Saturday at AU

Saturday was the first ‘moving in day’ preceding the Fall Semester. This year, because of an unusually large entering class - the largest ever - AU restricted moving in on the first few days to first year students only. By the end of the weekend, 48 per-cent of all students who will be living on campus had moved in.

If you have never participated in or seen this event - many AU faculty members have not - it is difficult to envision. Event before the residence halls open, a long line of cars, small trucks and SUV’s have queued up. Public safety officers are on hand to guide traffic flow and direct vehicles to parking spaces. “University Mattresses” salespersons are peddling their wares in the center of the ‘Quad” between Anderson and Letts, our two largest residence halls. Blue shorted residence hall staff members were standing behind the reception desk and in the Housing and Dining Offices to process admissions and solve problems. Sometimes it seems chaotic, but the chaos is organized.

My role is a modest one. On Friday evening, I purchased 12 pounds of strawberries. 16 quarts of orange juice, 12 quarts of lemonade, 100 popsicles, 10 12 packs of doughnuts, 8 pounds of cheese, three 12 packs of ice tea, 3 cartons of crackers, three pineapples and more. Throughout the morning, and until my larder was bare, I donned an orange apron, an oversized name-tag that said ‘Faculty Resident” and handed out food. For those waiting at the desk, there was a table laden with fruit, donuts juice and coffee. For those waiting for admission in cars and in the quad, I circulated about with strawberries, freshly cut pineapple chunks, glasses of orange juice and lemonade and, later in the day popsicles. “Isn’t that sweet” was the most common reaction when I showed up outside the widow of a waiting car, filed with parents, a student, perhaps a sibling and lots of belongings, with my tray of lemonade or bowl of strawberries.

By 2 PM my larder was bare and, sadly, I had to close up shop. Next year I may have to double my food order. In other years the crush was over by after mid-day, but not this year. It continued on into the evening. 

Each year, I am impressed again by everyone’s good humor. Many families have driven long distances and are experiencing a major life transition. Virtually all  seemed to show patience, consideration and love for one another in what can be a stressful time. This year, unseasonably cool Washington weather helped. On a morning when the Russians were invading Georgia and there were a host of other unresolved problems in the world, moving in day at AU was a time when one could renew hope in the fundamental resilience and goodness of the human spirit.

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