Reinventing the wheels


Orientation Week 2006 kicked off early Saturday morning with every first-year’s rite of passage: moving in. As much an endurance test for parents as for students, the process of moving into residence halls has been typically marked by a frenzied scene of bewildered freshmen, outnumbered orientation staff members, and a long line of cars and trucks waiting to be unloaded. And yet the scene at Shoreland Hall looked nothing as expected.

“This was the fastest move-in ever,” said house orientation aide Mitcho Erlewine, ’07, during one of the many lulls in front of Shoreland. “Every year we try to tweak things that aren’t working,” added Paul Ryer, assistant director of housing, who helped supervise the Shoreland operation. With Class of 2010 numbers comparable to recent years, Ryer attributed the improvements to smarter scheduling and better tools. Saturday’s move-in started an hour earlier at 7 a.m., and the orientation staff introduced so-called “purge bins,” large, wheeled, bright-orange, plastic containers to transport a student’s belongings to his or her dorm room.

Whereas orientation aides previously steered small, rickety shopping carts that required several trips to and from the car, the student helpers could now unload an entire minivan’s worth of gear into a single purge bin, which “improved things tremendously,” according to Ryer. In addition, because the purge bins were too big to fit inside the rooms, movers were quicker to shift items out of the hallways and into their rooms.

The efficiency relieved the orientation staff, who had been unsure if the new measures would help or hurt matters. “I was here from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. last year, unloading the entire time,” said orientation aide Andy Eisenberg, ’08, of Shoreland’s Fallers House. “But now I’ve been on a break for an hour and a half.” He added, “We haven’t even had a U-Haul truck yet.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photos: Orientation aides unload a first-year's car with the help of new "purge bins" (top); The Shoreland lobby stands clear of long lines and crowds waiting to move in (bottom).

September 18, 2006