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Many hands make light work on move-in day

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Members of the O-Team help first year students unload their vehicles and move them into the first year dorms at the University of Alberta-Augustana in Camrose on Sunday. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian

Members of the O-Team help first year students unload their vehicles and move them into the first year dorms at the University of Alberta-Augustana in Camrose on Sunday. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian

Meagan Ganske was not quite sure what to expect when she pulled up with a car load of belongings on move-in day at the University of Alberta-Augustana. 

What happened was the vehicle was instantly swarmed in front of the first-year dorm by the Orientation Team, and within minutes everything she brought with her was in her second-floor room. 

“It was kind of awkward when everyone was taking stuff out of your car — nerve-wracking — but it was good, it was pretty fast and easy,” said the 18-year-old Bachelor of Science in Psychology student from Athabasca. “I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t expect that much. I was expecting maybe four people to come down and take a few loads up each, but it was literally five seconds and all of your stuff was gone.” 

The process is a 30-year-old tradition, a welcome of sorts to the incoming class of students.  

It is a well-orchestrated dance of chaos coordinated by Rob Ford, the supervisor for resident services at school, with the student’s association doing the yeoman’s work in rounding up volunteers for the heavy lifting. 

In the space of five hours on Sunday, the 50 O-Team members moved in 204 students, or 88 per cent of Augustana’s first-year class. 

“I think it’s extremely important,” said Ford. 

“The impact it has is when we’ve got returning students who are willing to comeback and volunteer to help the first-year students ... It’s a self-replicating tradition and I think that we all benefit from it.” 

The tradition was born out of necessity, says Ford, in 1988. It was prior to the road that goes behind the first-year dorm that was typically used for unloading being paved. It was a particularly muddy weekend and there was no way get the waiting vehicles to the dorm to be unloaded off of the lane way. Returning students saw the dilemma, and started leading the line of cars up to the front door where they all helped in unloading. 

“It was like ‘Holy smokes, what a great idea, why didn’t we think of this earlier?’” said Ford. 

One freshman who did not get the full treatment was Elsa Schoepp, 17, from Stony Plain. She moved in early so she could train with the Augustana Vikings women’s soccer team. The attacking midfielder, however, was still down in the thick of things, helping other students move in on Sunday. 

She is looking forward to the start of university and figuring out who she really is as an individual. 

“It’s a different level of schooling, you get to come to school and form your own opinions about stuff, instead of having information shoved in your face,” said Schoepp. “They teach you to think about what your opinion is and your beliefs.” 

For some parents, it was a bittersweet day. They were thrilled they were not going to have to break their backs, lugging their kid’s boxes up a few flights of stairs, but for some it was difficult to leave, especially for those going through this day for the first time. 

“It’s exciting, it’s intimidating a little bit, there’s huge emotions seeing them spread their wings,” said Margaret Munchreth, who along with husband Kevin, was dropping off the oldest of their three daughters Becky Munchreth. 

“You want to be there to help them but you don’t want to overwhelm them.” 

To help with the adjustment after move-in day is Ford and his team of 31 resident assistants that arrived on campus for training two to four weeks prior to classes starting. The RA’s are taught how handle every situation they can expect from running a wing filled with emotional, stressed, and evolving students for the next 10 months. It is a role Ford has played in some part for the past 25 years at the university after being an RA for four years while attending Augustana. It is a job he loves. 

“I have the privilege of working with students at their best and at their worst and everything in between,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how people transform from first year to persisting through to convocation where they’re walking across the stage and they’ve got a degree. Then we see them come back when they’re visiting and some of the wonderful things they’ve done with their lives.” 


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