Housing, Recycling, Technology Staffers Ready for 'Move-In' Crush

August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009 — "Move-In Day" at the University of Virginia is Saturday, and by the time classes start Tuesday, Charlottesville and the Grounds will be re-energized with the voices and movement of more than 21,000 students. Waiting to greet them at U.Va. will be more than 13,000 faculty and staff members, most of whom have been working toward the new academic year for weeks – or longer.

This week, UVA Today has been checking in with a few of the people around the University who are preparing to welcome the students back to Grounds.

Wednesday: University Police, Parking & Transportation, Dean of Students Office
Thursday: University Dining, University Bookstore, Newcomb Hall
Today: University Housing, Recycling, Cavalier Computers, ITC

Housing Braces for Wave of Students

It's a hotelier's worst nightmare: On "Move-In Day," 3,200 students come to Grounds looking for their rooms.

"The keys are ready at 8 a.m.," said Trish Romer, director of plans and programs for U.Va.'s Housing Division. "It's an exciting but really busy day. People need help in their room, or something is not right."

On Move-In Day, Housing works in concert with Parking & Transportation, Recycling, University Police and Facilities Management, she said.

Some of the burden is eased by early arrivals, Romer said. About 1,000 students move in a week or so ahead, including athletes, students whose academic program requires additional preparation, foreign students and resident assistants, who go through a week-long training before the rest of the students get to Grounds.

Housing actually reduces its workforce in the fall instead of augmenting it, according to Romer. Housing doubles its staff in the summer, taking on workers idled by Dining and some other departments. The University does a brisk business in summer conferences, which requires the additional labor.

The dorm rooms are initially cleaned and prepped after school closes in the spring, and then kept up as conference attendees use the space.

On Move-In Day, Housing also coordinates with Recycling to pick up the tons of cardboard students use to pack material coming to the dorms, and with Parking & Transportation to keep the unloading traffic moving.

Tons of Cardboard Coming on Move-in Day

The Recycling Division is anticipating about 22 tons of cardboard on Move-In Day.

Bruce "Sonny" Beale, director of Recycling, said he will have about 25 workers on board for each day of move-in weekend.

"We coordinate with Housing and Parking & Transportation on the cardboard pick-up points," Beale said. "We have to get information to the resident assistants in advance so they can share it with the new students."

Recycling's largest haul for the weekend is cardboard from the students' boxes and packaging. Students have traditionally brought some items with them and purchased additional things once they arrive. Incoming students are encouraged to pack in an environmentally sensitive manner – avoiding Sytrofoam particles for packing, wrapping fragile objects in clothing, packing in suitcases, satchels and other reusable bags, and then saving the boxes they do use for when they move out or sending them back home with family members.

"We are trying to cut down on the packing material that is being discarded here." Beale said.

For Beale, the beginning of the academic year is not just a one-weekend explosion.

"Every weekend after that there is something going on," Beale said. "On Labor Day weekend there is a football game."

Once students are on Grounds, there will be a steady flow of bottles and cans to be recycled; convenient recycling containers are being placed in the residence houses.

"Once the students get back, I hope they make the correct decision and put recyclables in the proper place," Beale said.

For information on packing and what to bring, visit www.virginia.edu/housing/files/GreenMoveIn.pdf

At Cav Computers, Many Special Deliveries

At Cavalier Computers, the big crunch started earlier this month.

That's when the staff of the University's official technology retailer, a subdivision of the University Bookstore, began delivering preordered computers that students are expecting to be in their dorm rooms when they arrive.

"Everyone else is saying, 'The students are coming in a week!'" Cavalier Computers manager Jeff Bunts said late last week. "We're saying, 'Thank goodness. We'll be able to relax.'"

Well, maybe not completely. The a new academic year brings with it a spike in service calls and sales of accessories like cables and backpacks into which a new laptop might fit, Bunts said. In preparation, Cavalier Computers' store in the U.Va. Bookstore's Central Grounds location is stocked to the gills.

The store will also stay open later and on Sundays. To handle the increased workload during the academic year, Bunts said he generally hires between four and 10 student workers.

It doesn't take long for thoughts of new technology to enter the minds of incoming students. Orders for new computers start trickling in in May; some are shipped to home addresses, while others are picked up during Summer Orientation.

But around 500 or so were to be delivered directly to dorm rooms, where they will be waiting when students arrive. Cavalier Computers has offered that service for years, Bunts said, but the task has admittedly grown easier.

"It used to be CPU towers and big monitors," which often required the help of heavy equipment to deliver in elevator-less residence halls, he said.

"Now they're all getting laptops."

ITC Ready to Get Students Connected

As with Cavalier Computers, Move-In Day has become a bit simpler for Information Technology and Communications.

A few years ago, the University's technology arm dispatched techies to every first-year dorm to help students get connected to the University network.

While Saturday will still be an all-hands-on-deck day, connecting has become simple and user-friendly enough that ITC has scaled back its in-dorm presence to 12 to 15 "floaters," said Teresa Lockard, who oversees ITC's move-in effort.

"Students can sit down, turn on their machine and pretty easily get hooked up to wireless," she said, adding that making a wired connection is even easier.

Inevitably, there will be some problems to troubleshoot. Beside tracking down one of the floaters, technologically distressed students can call the new Help Desk at 4-HELP (434-924-4357), or tote their laptops to Gilmer Hall, where there will be a roomful of ITC experts waiting to offer assistance, Lockard said.

ITC is also hiring first-year computer advisers to help their peers answer computing questions, she said.

The arrival of the new semester brings a lot of associated requests for service; returning students sometimes have difficulty re-establishing their network connections after a summer away or connecting from off Grounds, Lockard said.

The new Help Desk arrangement, with its around-the-clock availability, should go a long way toward making things smoother this year.