Despite clouds, rainfall, isolated flooding and the threat of tornadoes caused by Hurricane Charley’s passage through the Carolinas, approximately 250 members of the Class of 2008 moved into their residence halls at Catawba College Saturday.
Students and their parents, concerned about how the adverse weather would affect their move, began calling campus on Thursday, August 12, prompting college officials to provide weather-related messages on the main page of the institutional website and in the overnight message accessed through the telephone switchboard.
Members of Catawba’s Office of Student Affairs worked to accommodate students arriving outside of normal check-in times, allowing many to check in early. They reported that some families delayed their travel plans to North Carolina due to inclement weather in their home states, particularly Florida.
The college switchboard was staffed throughout the day on Saturday, opening at 8 a.m. According to Loura H. Taylor, spokesperson for the college’s telephone services, the first call received at the switchboard Saturday morning was from the parent of a transfer student from Albany, N.Y. “They were concerned about weather conditions here,” Taylor said, noting that the family was also appreciative of both the switchboard and website messages concerning expected weather in Salisbury. “I reassured them about our conditions and told them we were planning to accommodate all new arrivals regardless of when they got to campus.”
Taylor said another caller phoned en route from the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area. This family was leaving their home as part of a mandatory evacuation there. “They just wanted to make sure that we would be ready to accommodate their student.”
Students in Catawba’s Class of 2008, who hail from 24 different states, Canada and New Zealand, continue to demonstrate the higher academic quality that college officials are seeking as they strive to move the institution from a select to a more select institution. The class SAT score average is approximately 15 points higher than that of last year’s freshmen class, and the grade point average is also significantly improved.
Approximately 40 Alphas (upperclassmen who act as peer helpers during orientation), along with upperclass resident assistants, and volunteers from a local church, assisted the freshmen as they unloaded cars, vans and trucks into the first- year residence halls. As rain intermittently fell, most wore plastic panchos with hoods as they helped carry boxes from the vehicles of arriving students to specific rooms.
One mother of a transfer student from the Lexington area expressed delight at the assistance being offered to her as she moved her daughter into her residence hall. “She’s transferring here from another N.C. college and we weren’t treated anything like we’ve been treated today,” she said, smiling broadly. “I looked at my daughter and I said, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ And then I told her, ‘This may be an example of why you wanted to come here.’ ”
One freshman student, who arrived earlier in the week in order to participate in a freshman retreat, had brought with her a U- haul full of her belongings. Due to some travel issues, she and her mother were a little late arriving on campus. As the daughter hurried off to join the others at the freshman retreat, the mother and six Catawba volunteers spent an hour unloading that student’s belongings into her room.
“It’s amazing how much stuff students bring with them to campus,” says Dan Sullivan, Catawba’s director of residence life. “It’s like they can’t feel at home unless they’re surrounding by their belongings. The student with the U-haul will have no trouble making this her second home.”
Various stations were set up across campus Saturday where new arrivals registered vehicles, signed up for the college meal plan, telephone service, and obtained student identification cards. The business office was also open for students and their parents who stopped by to check on their accounts.
The freshmen students join members of various athletic teams, including football and soccer, resident assistants, and the Alphas who are already in place in the resident halls. Catawba’s upperclass students are to begin moving in on Tuesday, Aug. 17, and officials expect that with their return close to 650 students will be housed on campus.
This year, administrators are utilizing the nine residence halls on campus a little differently than they have in years past. Pine Knot, which had been an all-male residence hall, will serve as a living/learning community for 32 students, segregated into its various suites according to gender. Some of these students are freshmen involved in a first-year seminar course being taught by Dr. Barbara Hetrick, vice president and dean of the college, while others are involved in service learning and student activities. Two of the residence halls, Abernethy and Woodson, will continue to house first-year students, with programs dedicated to helping them make a successful transition from high school to college.
Catawba’s fall semester classes begin Thursday, Aug. 19, and preliminary enrollment projections indicate approximately 1,350 total students. This figure includes boarding students, commuting day students and close to 400 adults in the Lifelong Learning program. A final enrollment tally will not be available until the drop/add period concludes Aug. 25.