A Gracious Welcome

Student Volunteers Ease Heavy Lifting For New Freshmen At JMU

Posted: August 22, 2013

James Madison University students sophomore Derek Smith (left), 20, of Sterling, and senior James Barney, 21, of Springfield, help freshmen during move-in day Wednesday morning at Potomac Hall. The two volunteered for the day with InterVarsity, a faith-based campus organization. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Sophomore Meredith Parker (right), 19, a JMU First Year Orientation Guide — or FrOG — from Fairfax, helps freshman Elana Baum, 18, of Marietta, Ga., with setting up her futon in her dorm room in Potomac Hall on Wednesday. Classes start Monday.
A student leaves a note for a new roommate on a dorm room door during freshmen move in day at Potomac Hall on Wednesday morning on campus.
HARRISONBURG — The mini-fridges were the first to go.

Plucked one by one from the backs of family trucks, vans and cars the tiny metal iceboxes were hefted up stairs and into elevators at James Madison University’s Potomac Hall on Wednesday during the second of two freshmen move-in days.

Especially in Wednesday’s summer heat, volunteers’ willingness to grab the heavy little rectangles seemed peculiar.

Were they lighter than they looked?

Sophomore Derek Smith, 20, of Sterling, seemed elated as he snagged one of the fridges from fellow mover James Barney, 21, of Springfield.

“We’re having a fridge-lifting competition,” Barney, explained.

Smith’s find earned him one point, according to the established scoring system created by First Year Orientation Guides, or FrOGs, and volunteers from InterVarsity, a Christian fellowship group, who were helping new students move into dorms at Potomac.

“Each person kind of keeps track,” explained FrOG Meredith Parker, 19, of Fairfax. “It’s just for bragging rights.”

While the game helped move time along for the volunteers, most were happy to be putting in the hours helping the newest members of their campus community.
 
“I had a swarm of people move my stuff,” said Smith, reflecting on his move-in experience last year. “I figured I’d return the favor and get their time at JMU started right.”
 
Barney and Parker agreed that when they were freshmen their move-in experiences were smooth and freakishly fast thanks to the volunteer help.
 
“I want to be able to help somebody else,” Parker said.
 
By the 2 p.m. conclusion of Wednesday’s move-in day, every one of the more than 4,000 freshmen were scheduled to be settled into dorm rooms across campus. Today, from 2 until 5 p.m., transfer students are scheduled to move in.
 
When classes start Monday at James Madison, more than 20,000 students are expected to roam campus, marking the Harrisonburg school’s largest-ever enrollment.
 
Volunteers at Potomac Hall on Wednesday said they hope their help will start the campus’ newest faces off on the right foot.
 
“Just the fact that we can make a difference for them is great,” said junior Gbemisola Johnson, 20, who was welcoming students and spreading the word about the JMU office she works for, the Center for Multicultural Student Services.
 
Added Johnson’s co-worker, senior Lamitra Barnes, 20: “It’s nice to make them feel a little bit more comfortable.”

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com