More than 1,400 Volunteers Help UM Students Get Settled

More than 5,000 students voyage back on campus ahead of first day of classes

UM students move into campus housing ahead of the 2018 fall semester, which begins Monday (Aug. 20). More than 1,400 community members, as well as university staff and students, help them get settled each year. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Wide-eyed first-year University of Mississippi students, their proud parents and more than 1,400 volunteers come together each August during Groovin’ at Move In to unload Keurig coffee makers, shelving, bedding, posters and other essentials for making a new home away from home. 

This year’s Groovin’ at Move In ran from Wednesday through Friday, ahead of classes beginning Monday (Aug. 20), with more than 5,000 freshmen, transfer students and upperclassmen moving into on-campus housing.

It’s always an momentous week for the university that brings together the community, UM staff and student volunteers, University Police officers, security, the Department of Student Housing and other campus units to make sure operations go as smoothly as possible, said Jennifer McClure, assistant director for marketing for student housing. 

“It’s so exciting,” McClure said. “Members of our campus and local communities volunteer to help. It’s so heartwarming to see them come together to welcome our new and returning residents.

“Our volunteers are essential in making our move-in fun and full of great memories for our residents and their families.”

At Minor Hall, Residence Hall 3, Stockard and Martin and other residence halls, hundreds of volunteers and parents worked around the housing compounds to help students spirit furnishings into their new homes. Among them were Bill and Cinnamen Fisher, of Eldersburg, Maryland, with their daughter, Breanna Fisher, a freshman biology major. 

Breanna Fisher was excited about beginning her college journey, while still being a little sad about leaving her high school friends behind. She also is going to miss the family’s Chihuahua, Bear, who stayed back in Maryland.

“She wanted to sneak him into the dorms, but he doesn’t like to be left alone,” Cinnamen Fisher said. “He’d whine all the time.”

Breanna Fisher said she plans to FaceTime with Bear while she’s away. 

The Fishers said they were well-prepared for the day because they’d been checking out social media posts related to move-in at Ole Miss that helped them figure out which supplies they would need. They also enjoyed meeting some of the parents who post on those pages while they helped their daughter move Wednesday.

The dolly they brought was a good call, Bill Fisher said. Breanna and her mom piled on bedding, a printer and the ever-essential Keurig coffee maker. 

The day was a culmination of plans the family made when Breanna Fisher first visited Ole Miss. It just blew the other schools away, she said. 

“I’m excited,” Breanna Fisher said. 

University of Mississippi students, their families and more than 1,400 volunteers haul loads of furnishings into the university’s 7 traditional residence halls, 6 contemporary residence halls, 2 residential colleges and 2 apartment communities as part of Groovin’ at Move In. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Shannon Richardson, assistant director of campus recreation, worked with a team of volunteers from her department. Richardson, who has participated in eight move-in weeks, said it’s fun to talk with the new students about recreation opportunities and answer questions about campus while she helps them unload.

“I’m a parent of younger children,” Richardson said. “I think about if they were my child going through their first time on a college campus, I would want to make sure they receive the information that they need, as well as insight into college life.

“I try to let them know those things and just be a friendly face for them.”

Helping out is also particularly useful for university staff members to be able to see just how much the campus means to those who learn here, she said.

“I enjoy seeing the excitement on their faces,” Richardson said. “We wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for the students. They’re whom we’re here for. We are here to serve them.”

Rachael Durham, UM coordinator of first-year experience, worked with 99 student volunteers from the MPower Leadership Program. She’s been helping students move in for five years and always makes it a point to help families move their stuff, hoping to help them feel a little bit better about sending their child off to college. 

“We are an Ole Miss family,” Durham said. “It’s very important that people see that we care about them as a student and not just an ID number.”

She said it’s important for staff members to help out because students and families can meet some of the people who shape their college careers. There’s a comfort in seeing that the university staff cares about the students. 

“I remember my move-in day, with all of the feelings and anxiety that came with it,” Durham said. “There’s a lot going on. I love talking to them about what they are excited about.

“The parents are sometimes almost in tears, but I like to let them know they are going to be OK, and they are leaving their child in good hands.”