‘WOW’-ing the crowd is a group effort
Nearly 500 volunteers will unload cars, carry boxes and provide incoming SRU students with their first campus experience during the “Weekend of Welcome” Aug. 25-28.
April 25, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When 1,500 new students descend upon Slippery Rock University this fall, they'll be greeted by 500 or so volunteers that will unload cars, carry boxes and provide the students' with their first, "welcome to SRU we're glad you're here."
At least that's Karen Perry's vision. Perry, assistant director of campus recreation, is co-chairing Weekend of Welcome.
"Right now, we're at one, so we've got a way to go," said Perry with a laugh. "I'm sure we'll get there, but sooner would be better than later, so I'm asking all faculty, staff and students to join the effort."
Volunteers are needed to assist in everything from helping students and parents move belongings into their campus residence halls to helping them purchase books, obtain parking passes, set up computers and learn where the campus dining halls are located.
This year's WOW program will take place Aug. 25-26 followed by the arrival of upperclassmen later that weekend.
Transfer students and those who will reside in Living Learning Communities will move in from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 25, with the balance of new students moving in Aug. 26.
Hence the need for an "all hands on deck" approach when it comes to getting the newbies where they need to go, according to Perry.
"There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to WOW," Perry said. "We're welcoming all these new faces onto our campus, we've got parents and other family along for the ride ... all with questions about this, that and the other thing, we're trying to control traffic, and, oh, yeah, move the students into the halls as well. But we also have a lot of fun doing it. Without question, the volunteers play a large part in that. We couldn't do it without them."
Perry estimates that WOW will utilize 300-350 student volunteers, comprised of not only individuals, but also members of various student clubs, organizations and sports teams.
"The benefit for student volunteers, regardless of class standing, is that they get to move in earlier than everyone else," said Perry. "Those folks are able to get into their rooms Aug. 24 and in return, all we ask is that they work one shift each day. It's a good deal if you ask me, and we usually see a lot of the same faces year after year because of it."
Those wishing to volunteer their time to WOW can visit: http://www.sru.edu/students/wow-(volunteers).
In an effort to keep everything flowing smoothly this year, the WOW event committee has adopted a "Stop, drop and go" theme for student arrivals.
"We want to make the process is as quick and painless as possible," said Keith Dils, dean of the College of Education and WOW co-chair. "We've tried to make the process almost like a NASCAR pit stop."
The process includes:
- Stop ... in front of your student's assigned building;
- Drop ... off all belongings. Volunteer staff will be on hand to assist; and
- Go ... and park the vehicle so that others can begin the move-in process
Dils added that once a vehicle pulls in front of the designated building and has unloaded, one person should remain with the students' belongings while the residence hall check-in process is completed. The driver can move the car to the designated parking lot and take a courtesy shuttle back to the residence hall.
"We want the whole process to be as low stress as possible," said Dils. "There's a lot going on and the focus of the weekend shouldn't be unpacking the car."
A number of SRU services, including parking, the Student Health Center, financial aid, the ID office and the Help Desk will have extended hours throughout the weekend to assist new arrivals.
SRU Dining Services will be providing free hot dogs, beverages and cookies at stations across campus both days.
Information tents will be located on either end of campus where visitors can have questions answered, get directions and pick up event schedules, campus maps or the hours of operation for the various campus offices operating throughout the weekend.
Numerous activities are scattered across the WOW calendar including required meetings for First-Year Student Residence Hall and LLC residents; shuttle trips to the Grove City Premium Outlets; a moonlight breakfast and an all-campus gathering the evening of Aug. 26 that Dils equates to being "part pep rally and part orientation."
"The SRU cheerleaders, band and mascot will all be there," said Dils, "but we're looking at taking a bit more of a scholarly approach this year by combining information from student affairs with academic affairs.
"We want the students to know and see who SRU's leaders are and what roles they play in student success. 'Who are the president and the provost?' This will provide that opportunity."
Dils said that as new students arrive on campus, they bring with them lots of fresh-eyed optimism and energy and while that is certainly something the University wants to help spur on, the administration also wants to provide them with anchors as most are away from home for the first time.
"It's an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time," said Dils. "We want the students to know and understand that there are a great many people here that are dedicated to their success, so introducing them right out of the gate makes great sense."
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