More than 1,600 members of the Class of 2024 and other new students are arriving on campus on Friday, Aug. 14, and Saturday, Aug. 15, for Move-In and New Student Orientation, with the Elon community coming together to assist with a smooth transition.
The cheers and the welcomes were slightly muffled by cloth masks and other face coverings on Friday, but Elon University demonstrated the same spirit as it welcomed the Class of 2024 and other new students to campus during Move-In.
Face coverings weren’t the only thing different, as Elon adapted its finely-tuned move-in process to encourage physical distancing and reduce crowding in parking lots and residence halls. New checkpoints and protocols were in place to help promote a healthy and safe start to the semester, with all new students starting the process with a Health Check-In at Schar Center.
But while elements of Elon’s Ready & Resilient plan for the new academic year created a different Move-In process this year, its significance remained, with more than 1,600 first-year and transfer students arriving to settle into their new homes and begin a transition into their college careers at Elon. The new academic year and campus look different, but the university’s mission is still grounded in the emphasis on teaching and learning and supported by a culture of collaboration and innovation.
“I’m just so excited to meet new people, despite all that is going on,” said Michael Buccellato from Chicago as he moved into his room in Global Neighborhood.
With plans to study mathematics and pursue a career in sports analytics, Buccellato admitted that packing for college required including more bottles of hand sanitizer than he would have expected six months ago. But loading up the family car for the 12-hour drive still involved packing like you were playing a game of Tetris, and Buccellato arrived on campus with his parents ready for his new start at Elon.
He and his mother, Cassie Buccellato, both said they had added a stop at Elon during a college visit trip to North Carolina, and as soon as they arrived to campus for a tour, things just clicked. “I am so excited for him to embark on this new chapter in his life,” Cassie Buccellato said. “I am way more excited than I am anxious.”
At the Schar Center Friday morning, a stream of cars, trucks and SUVs made stops at tents to begin the check-in process. Students and their family members had their temperatures checked, and Elon staff members verified that first-year students had completed the required steps to move in. Those include completing both a pre-semester COVID-19 test and online training modules, submitting vaccination records and signing the Healthy Elon Commitment.
President Connie Ledoux Book visited the Schar Center mid-morning to greet a number of students and their families as they checked in and distribute the Ready & Resilient Kit, which includes an Elon-branded mask, hand sanitizer, tissues, a thermometer other information about steps students can take to promote health and safety on campus.
Katie Soraghan, assistant director of the Phoenix Club for special events and hospitality was helping hand out kits at Schar Center, and said the return of students to campus is particularly invigorating this year. On-campus instruction sent most Elon students home in March as the COVID-19 pandemic grew, with many Elon staff working remotely for much of the summer, leading to a much less-populated campus for nearly five months. “There’s a new sense of excitement on campus with students coming back,” Soraghan said.
Rebecca Forecast arrived at Schar Center with her son, Beau Matic, and said she was happy to see him start as a school she knows will be a great fit for him. Matic plans to study journalism and also participate in Club Soccer, while admitting that he also needs to work on procrastinating as he shifts to university classes. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and having fun and learning new things,” Matic said.
They traveled to Elon from New York City, with Forecast saying she appreciated seeing everyone participating in the move-in process adhering to public health protocols. “The way you’re approaching this is so appreciated,” Forecast said. “It shows we can live and work in a world with COVID.”
The 1,600 members of the Class of 2024 come to Elon from 41 states and 23 countries around the world. The class is made up of 59 percent women and 41 percent men, with 20 percent having ethnically diverse backgrounds. They’re joined by 67 transfer students.
Alex Percival isn’t scheduled to move in until Saturday, so after she and her parents, Horst and Robin, arrived a day early from New Jersey, they took the opportunity to tour campus late Friday morning before meeting her new roommate for lunch.
“I’m definitely looking forward to a change — starting in a new place, meeting new people and seeing all sorts of different people,” Alex Percival said.
She plans to study psychology but is also considering human service studies. She’s looking forward to her classes, and says like many, how Elon’s campus will be impacted this fall by COVID-19 is on her mind. “Everyone has to take a little bit of responsibility for themselves,” Percival said. “We just have to be smart.”
Her mother said while she does have concerns, she feels that the university has taken steps to help educate students and their families and she feels her daughter will be safe. Their family was initially attracted to Elon by the aesthetics of the campus, but Robin Percival said what she thinks makes it such a strong choice is the values she believes guide how Elon approaches teaching and learning.
“I am excited for her to find out who she wants to be in life,” Robin Percival said.
Emily Krechel, director of new student programs, said that the entire move-in process went smoothly on Friday, particularly given how many adjustments had been made and how many unknowns there were. “We started today thinking this was an experiment, and there were going to need to be tweaks made during the day, and for Saturday,” Krechel said. “Honestly, everything has gone so smoothly that we haven’t had to make any tweaks. Everyone has felt so good about the process.”
After moving in, students will participate in “virtual bingo” across the various residential neighborhoods on Friday night. After move-in wraps up on Saturday afternoon, New Student Orientation will get underway Saturday night with a Commitment to Community session about the expectations for living and learning at Elon, as well as meetings for residential neighborhoods and residence hall floors.
New Student Convocation will be held on Monday, Aug. 17, with students gathering in small groups to participate in the live-streamed ceremony that will officially launch their careers at the university. President Connie Ledoux Book will welcome students and their families to campus and share her thoughts about the start of their experience at Elon.