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Moving in -- together

To neighbors, the move-in period may just seem like added congestion on the roads. But for a Georgetown student, particularly for freshmen, it is a watershed moment. Figuring out where to go, what to do, and when to do everything can be extraordinarily difficult – and going at it alone seems, well, unthinkable. New students have tons of information thrown at them, all the while trying to adjust to their new environment, make new friends, and then, of course, actually move in to their dorms.

As someone who came to Georgetown from Tucson, Ariz., and not knowing a single person when I arrived to the Hilltop, I can tell you from experience that my mom's presence during move-in was immeasurably helpful, both practically and emotionally.

I was distressed to learn that there are a number of students who arrive at the Hilltop each year entirely alone. Many of them come from low-income families who, due to high flight costs and other factors, are unable to accompany them during this most critical and difficult transition time. This year, the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA), along with the Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP), made a commitment to minimize that occurrence for as many students as possible.

And so we developed Project Move-In, with the intention of providing move-in support for students who didn’t have any family members with them. The goal was three fold: identify which students will be arriving alone; find volunteers to pick up one to two students at local airports and then help them settle into their dorm rooms; make these students feel welcomed to campus by having someone personally presentto serve as a big brother/sister and/or stand-in mom/dad during move-in time – especially as their peers came with countless family members in tow.

There was little budget to do this, so we relied almost entirely on volunteers. We reached out to our most supportive alumni, faculty, and staff in the hopes that they would help Georgetown students in a very meaningful way, one that these students would never forget.

Our response was truly remarkable. Georgetown is lucky to be a university that has such passionate alumni who are dedicated to the ideals of service and compassion, no matter how many years it's been since departing the Hilltop.

We were so successful in recruiting volunteers that we ran into a major logistical issue: we had far more volunteers than we did students who indicated that they needed move-in help. Our goal of minimizing the occurrence of students arriving alone was not only met, but exceeded. From the information we received, it appears that no student experienced move-in alone this year. This is a testament to the hard work of the GSP and GUSA staff, but more so to the generosity of spirit shown by Georgetown’s alumni.

Some alumni went above and beyond. When we explained our logistical problem, a gracious few found innovative ways to contribute. One donated a dinner on M St. to students who had nobody to share a meal with during their first night at Georgetown. Seven new students joined my Vice President Greg Laverriere and me at J. Paul’s.

Some members of GUSA took it even further. There was one student set to arrive well after midnight. So, Project Move-In volunteers, like Adam Talbot, waited patiently until 2:00 am, greeted the student at the front gates, and then helped him move-in to New South residence hall.

This project couldn’t have happened without the unyielding efforts of Missy Foy and her staff at GSP. Key administrators like Dean Pat McWade of the Financial Aid Office and Scott Fleming, Associate Vice President for Federal Affairs, were also critical in envisioning this project and then turning it into reality.

Georgetown is a community. While there are many successful individuals on campus, it’s the collective “we” that determines the greatness of our university. That idea of “we” is most sincerely felt at HOYA basketball games, during our Race for the Cure, and on Georgetown Day. And now, for the few who need it, that idea of “we” can be felt the very first time they arrive at Healy gates, so that they too can begin understand the Hilltop as a home.

Mike Meaney is President of the Georgetown University Students Association and a regular contributor to The Georgetown Dish.