The new student making waves this orientation season this year was Irene.
The hero of the hurricane, however, was The Office Residence Life. For a group of employees that only gets paid for 15 hours of work a week, Residence Life has been working literally around the clock for days.
Before anyone moved in, the Residence Life staff had been already put in hours of training. Then the earthquake hit and they had to regroup. Before any real progress could be made the hurricane hit Thursday night and they, along with most of the other Residence Life campus staff, had to deal with a five-hour power outage.
Then, in less than 24 hours, they had regrouped once again tripling their efforts to get students moved in, a process that was supposed to take all weekend that had to be condensed to one day. I was shocked when I woke up the Friday morning and saw checkpoints set up around the building, and Resident Assistants from the old apartments, from other dorms unloading and redirecting cars. As an Orientation Leader, I thought we were working hard, but it was nothing compared to what Residence Life was doing.
And everyone cooperated. From what I saw, Residence Life kept up a good face and everything ran smoothly. After helping the freshman move-in, I have a new understanding for parents and students who seem overwhelmingly stressed after the process. But it really blew me away how effectively I saw the entire effort going off.
After all these heroic efforts, what really blew me away was that the people in those grey t-shirts I saw unloading cars, carrying plastic bins and suitcases from curb to curb, and generally just giving their everything, were all students.
Scattered here and there I saw higher ups like Head Resident of the UMW Apartments, Aaron Chandler and who I presume was Philip Hernandez, but this wasn’t like freshman move in, where you had Dean Rucker bouncing around keeping the mood light while music played from the top of George Washington Hall and the sustainability team drove around with water. It was hot, it was humid, and it was just a little more urgent.
And then the hurricane hit and we were put on “lockdown.” As someone who did in fact leave the building, I’m going to apologize again for giving you all a hard time, but when I came down to walk a friend out at 2:30 a.m. to find out on-campus students couldn’t leave, you all solidly attempted to find him another room, with bags under your eyes the size of those industrial ones you can get from Ikea, as you took a break from writing incident reports you had to complete on top of processing an overwhelming and from what I gathered, confusing set of directions.
Even the security guard standing in front of the building didn’t know exactly the perimeters of the new “shelter in place” policy, but the Residence Life staff exhausted behind that little counter handled things more competently than I ever would have expected. And they watched my extra houseguests and I head up the elevator, apologizing for making things difficult as they returned to computer screens for who knows how long while we settled into somewhat crowded beds.
So thank you to the Residence Life in Eagle Landing, and Residence Life across this campus. Irene may have flopped, but you all were the hurricane heroes.
-Lindsey Cutler is a senior.