Despite police checkpoints and some blocked roads in Foggy Bottom, last weekend’s move-in process proceeded without any significant complications to the relief of students, parents and University officials.
“It’s gone tremendously smoothly – just as smoothly as last year,” GW spokesman Eric Solomon said. He attributed the success to “early planning and communication” between Metropolitan and University police.
MPD established two checkpoints where 21st Street intersects F and H streets. Parents who helped students move in said they were pleasantly surprised at the short duration of their waits.
“We anticipated the 21st and F (Street) stop,” said Marsha Traves, who was helping her son move into Thurston Hall. “(A police officer) asked if we were moving into Thurston and then just waved us in.”
“It’s been very smooth so far, very organized,” her husband Paul added. “It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
UPD chief Dolores Stafford agreed that the checkpoints did not seem to inconvenience drivers.
“We kept traffic moving as much as possible. People had to wait, but they remained patient,” Stafford said Monday. “I don’t think the checkpoints had any real effect. I don’t think anyone said they were slowed down.”
Rebecca Sawyer, assistant dean of students, said move-in began two hours earlier this year, at 6 a.m. Community Living and Learning Center staff reported that 600 Thurston residents had moved in by 9 a.m.
CLLC officials also allowed students to move into Thurston and other residence halls on Friday to decrease Saturday’s crowd. Parents said the checkpoints were easier to pass through than they had anticipated.
“Our cab driver originally didn’t want to take us,” said Chicago resident Sonia Gerson, who helped move her daughter into Thurston Hall. “The police officer was nice. He asked if we were moving in, and as soon as I said yes, he let us through. I was pleased because I expected worse.”
An MPD officer stationed at a checkpoint Saturday said he knew of no problems associated with the move-in process and that he had not inspected any vehicles. He also said the police rarely perform inspections on the weekends.
“Everyone is coming in and dropping off clothes,” he said. “Most of the checking is done during the week on delivery guys at businesses.”
The checkpoints were established by MPD after intelligence suggested that there might be a car or truck bomb attack at the International Monetary Fund at 19th and G streets or the World Bank at 1818 H Street. Despite the warnings, incoming students living only blocks away from the buildings said they do not fear for their safety.
“Well, it’s America, and I’m not going to be scared,” said freshman Jordan Pollack, who moved into Thurston Saturday. “I’m not going to change where I go to school. It makes it more exciting, actually.”
Boston resident Ed Bean, father of a freshman moving in Saturday, said he took the recent terrorism warnings with a grain of salt.
“When someone makes a threat, that’s not where you’re going to see them,” he said. “You see them where you’re not looking.”
While there were few complications, the process was not flawless and at times resembled the frenzied move-ins of years past.
“I pulled into the left lane to get on 19th from 20th but they made me go all the way around (the block),” said Robert Hill, a parent moving his daughter into Mitchell Hall. “It’s asinine. No one is there directing traffic to tell you that. But as we were waiting, the same security officer let two cars in the left lane go through.”
Freshman Bill Turner of Thurston Hall said, “I haven’t even seen one (officer).”
To avoid long Thurston elevator lines, parents and students lugged furniture and cartons of Ramen noodles up several flights of stairs. Outside the hall, several media outlets, including The Washington Post and several television stations, peppered movers with questions about their safety.
Across campus, hundreds of students moved into the Ivory Tower, a 729-bed residence hall with New Hall-style doubles and quads.
Junior Judd Ullom said he was expecting his Ivory Tower move-in to be much busier than his move-in to the Dakota last year.
“I was worried that because Ivory was a lot bigger than my building last year, the process would be twice as hard,” Ullom said, adding that he did not have to wait in any lines at Ivory Tower.
Also new to campus are three Greek-letter townhouses, occupied by two fraternities and one sorority, on G Street near the Smith Center. Fifteen members of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority moved into one of the townhouses, while the Alpha Epsilon Pi and Beta Theta Pi fraternities house nine members in their townhouses. In addition, members of the Lamda Chi Alpha fraternity moved into the former Delta Tau Delta house, located at 2020 G St.
Each organization underwent an application process in order to live in the townhouses. Ten Greek-letter organizations applied to live in the townhouses.
“We are all really excited to be living in the house and it is a great asset to our chapter and the Greek community as a whole,” said Megan Menesale, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma.
The University began expanding Greek-letter housing options with the construction of Townhouse Row in fall 2003, which houses eight fraternities and sororities.
Stafford said many members of the GW staff helped facilitate move-in. CLLC deans, Colonial Cabinet leaders and Greek-letter group members were among the people helping incoming students move in to Mitchell and Thurston halls.
“It was well coordinated by staff assigned to work events,” Stafford said. “Larger buildings are more challenging, but a lot of senior staff were there who have worked this many times. They know what to do and get the job done.”
Student leaders assisting with move-in said that overall, the patience of people moving into the dorms helped keep the situation orderly.
“People expected a wait, but they seem reasonable and calm and cool in general,” Residence Hall Association president Dan Miller said. “Everyone is following directions and no one is fighting. It’s great.”
This article appeared in the September 1, 2004 issue of the Hatchet.