GW opens its arms to new students next week

Freshmen moving into their new GW homes next weekend have more to look forward to in their first weeks of school than unpacking boxes and facing massive traffic jams in Thurston Hall elevators.

“We’re trying to welcome (incoming freshmen) and make them feel at home here at GW,” said Rebecca Sawyer, community director for Madison Hall, which will become an all-freshman hall this year.

In her effort to acquaint freshmen with GW and college life, Sawyer said she and her staff are planning numerous programs for the first week of classes. First-year residents will be instructed on how to do their laundry, make 10-minute meals and locate their classes.

Sawyer has planned an on-campus scavenger hunt for Madison Hall residents to help students identify important campus locations such as the GWorld and dining services offices and the GW Bookstore.

Rachel Reidner, a faculty member who will live in Thurston this year, said she is looking forward to an exciting year with the hall’s residents.

Reidner said she is preparing to bring academic speakers to the hall, organize a series of foreign films and take her residents to see various dramatic productions at the Shakespeare Theater.

In other freshman residence halls, Mark Levine, director of freshman services for the Community Living and Learning Center, said community facilitators, formally known as resident assistants, will include Mount Vernon students in some of their programs to better integrate freshmen from both campuses.

Levine said he expects most CFs to conduct their first floor meetings Aug. 23, before classes begin. At the meetings, CFs will lead discussions and assist residents in drawing up a community compact for the floor.

In addition to residence hall programming, CLLC is planning separate initiatives to welcome freshmen. A community-building diversity workshop will be held Aug. 25 in the Marvin Center’s Betts Theatre at 5 and 7 p.m.

Heidi Wicker, the director of Welcome Week activities, said Maura Cullen, a speaker on community relations issues, has been chosen to lead both workshops.

Other organizations are interested in helping incoming freshmen make a smooth transition from high school to college.

Residence Hall Association President Justin Lavella said the group is planning to open a lemonade stand in front of both Thurston Hall and the New Hall during move-in days.

Besides offering a cool drink, Lavella said RHA volunteers will urge freshmen to participate in hall councils.

Some Greek-letter organizations are scheduled to help students move into their residence halls.

The Neighbors Project is hoping to involve more freshmen in its community service activities this year by taking their “Get busy in D.C.” information session to Thurston Hall Aug. 24.

RHA members will host a barbecue to attract new members Sept. 9 in the Gelman Quad, Lavella said.

A special effort also will be made to attract freshmen to RHA Sept. 14, when RHA holds its first weekly meeting of the year, he said.

Despite the events planned to help or attract freshmen, Lavella said RHA will not neglect upperclassmen in its outreach initiatives. The association must actively recruit in all the halls, he said.

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