Volunteer greeters welcome first-years to Grounds
The story behind the helping hands on move-in day
Armed with neon shirts and smiles, a group of students show up to Grounds early each August to volunteer as greeters. These individuals are the first source of support new students enjoy at the University, helping them transport their belongings from the street to their dorm rooms and minimizing move-in day chaos.
“The mission is just to make first-year students feel as welcome and excited to get here on move-in day as possible,” said University Programs Council chair Elly Roller, a fourth-year College student. “It is really scary to move into a new place and [we should do] the most we can do make them feel like they belong here and that [these are] going to be the best four years of their lives.”
Between 300 and 400 greeters are divided between the dorms when first-year students arrive on move-in day. Super greeters armed with walkie-talkies arrive a day early to learn how the move-in process works. Super greeters manage the other volunteers by assigning them to the locations they are most needed — though greeters can request to serve in residential colleges, which allows first-years to be welcomed by members of their new, smaller community.
The greeters program attracts a diverse spectrum of volunteers, many of whom join because of a positive experience they had with greeters their first-year.
“I think it is just a gratifying thing to do,” said third-year College student Tom Pilnik, UPC vice-chair of programming. “Lending a hand and making U.Va. welcoming from day one is definitely the most [satisfying] thing.”
This year, UPC added a “global greeter” program for international students. The program aims to provide a resource if the students feel overwhelmed by information and create events to make them feel more comfortable in their new community.
Global greeters will take international students shopping for dorm supplies in Charlottesville and assist with setting up their rooms to help them make sure they don’t over-purchase.
The duties of a volunteer greeter may be heavy on the shoulders, but physical strength is not the only skill they will need this weekend.
“I don’t actually have any muscle — I didn’t really consider that when I applied,” second-year College student Lexi Schubert said. “Maybe [I’ll use] my wisdom to tell people that they don’t need things so I don’t have to carry them upstairs, if that counts as a talent. Or a smile.”