Members of the Shippensburg University class of 2024 had an unconventional but warm welcome to their first year in college.
Move in looked different this year as students, residence assistants and faculty had to adapt to COVID-19 coronavirus procedures. After arriving at the designated time students would go to their dorms lobby to check in. Lobbies had one door designated as an entrance and the other as an exit to minimize cross-traffic contact.
When students went to check-in with staff, officials would take their temperature and the temperature of anyone helping them move in. Officials also gave students a welcome packet containing a face mask and hand sanitizer.
Carts were still available for students to use and staff would sanitize them after each use. For first year students, moving in was not the only back to school tradition that would be changed by COVID-19.
This year’s welcome week for first-year and transfer students featured many events held online over Zoom. The newest Raiders also participated in socially distanced outdoor gatherings.
Convocation traditionally marks the end of welcome week and the beginning of new students’ college careers and this year was no different – except the class of 2024 could not physically gather in the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center.
Instead students, faculty and administrators logged onto a Zoom for the annual ceremony.
SU officials including Laurie Carter, Provost Tom Ormond, Student Government Association President Stephen Washington, Vice President of Enrollment Management Peter Gitau and professor Robin McCann addressed students Friday morning.
After a brief welcome, Washington remarked on the uniqueness of this school year and encouraged students to reach out for help with new obstacles presented by the new semester.
Following Washington’s remarks, Gitau spoke about the purpose of convocation to bring people together and connect the new class with the existing campus community.
Carter then welcomed the new students to the beginning of their college journey and addressed the many changes brought on by the coronavirus. Carter highlighted the university's continuing commitment to keeping student success a number one priority.
The keynote speaker McCann, centered her speech around three things she thought all freshmen should know. First, students should reach out when they need help especially with all the extra challenges they face this year, second faculty are there to help and want students to reach out to them and third that college is the time for students to become who they want to be.
McCann noted how this group of new students is unique in the fact that they are starting this journey among a pandemic and social unrest throughout the country.
Following McCann’s speech, Washington led the students attending though the new student pledge.