On move-in day, parents and students struggled to squeeze past each other on the sidewalk, arms full with clothes, boxes and books.
But of all the things students carried to their new homes Saturday, University President Thomas LeBlanc said he was most excited to see students carrying around a simple, navy blue sweatshirt emblazoned with GW’s logo.
For the first time, freshmen could pick up a GW sweatshirt at pop-up family welcome centers during move-in – an idea LeBlanc said he pushed for to give students the opportunity to show school spirit without spending a dime.
“I thought to myself, ‘Well, if we buy every student a sweatshirt and we buy in large bulk, maybe we can get a cheap enough price that we can give it away so we can get them started on their GW collection,’” he said in an interview with The Hatchet Saturday.
Sweatshirts are just the beginning of another year with the student experience at the top of administrators’ priority lists. Officials said they established two new family welcome centers on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses Saturday to give students and families a place to take a break from move-in to grab a snack or meet staff members.
LeBlanc, who helped students move in throughout the day, said the move-in centers were a response to feedback he and other administrators heard from students and parents last year. He said parents needed water and a break from high temperatures at last year’s move-in, which he hopes the new centers address.
The hubs also featured representatives from several different University departments and services, like the career center, the Division of Information Technology and the Multicultural Student Services Center.
“We also want to make sure there’s a single point where you can get every problem solved,” LeBlanc said.
University spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton said the welcome centers were the product of a collaboration between the Office of Enrollment and the Student Experience, and the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.
“The family welcome centers will give families and new students an opportunity to take a break from move-in and connect with the GW community,” she said in an email last week.
LeBlanc said officials will evaluate the welcome centers and other aspects of move-in to identify any changes for next year, but he said Saturday he had only heard positive reviews from parents who told him their move-ins went smoothly.
“Every year, I think, we will try to continually improve, and we’ll keep an eye on it,” he said.
LeBlanc said that instead of focusing on any one specific topic this year regarding the student experience, he’ll promote the issue by “creating a culture in which everyone here at GW is always asking, ‘How will this affect our students?’”
“I want our students to recognize that we are in a partnership to help them have a positive experience,” he said.
LeBlanc has listed the student experience as a top priority since he first stepped on campus a year ago.
Taylor Graham, a freshman who grabbed a free sweatshirt, said the move-in hubs were a nice place to gather with other first-year students who were also in the midst of a major move, as well as ask questions about University operations to staffers.
“They are there to greet you and help you, so it made it enjoyable and easier,” she said.
Linda Chrycy, who dropped off her daughter Saturday, said she appreciated the water and food available at the Marvin Center – but said she didn’t know the space was a designated move-in center.
“It was definitely appreciated,” she said. “We didn’t know if it was orientation for freshmen or something else.”