Move In Dan 2015


Nine days ago, I helped families move their children into the dorms.  The hopes and dreams of parents were expressed, sometimes in side conversations that went unheard by their children.  I purposefully have written “children” because as the parents of freshmen were speaking with me, it was as if the years and cherished moments with their children were flashing through their minds.  The parents, seemingly felt more deeply by some of the mothers, were leaving their babies in the hands of an academic institution with the trust that they would receive good care and a great education.  Having just dropped a son off at college the week before, these feelings were fresh in my mind too.

As I carried everything imaginable from refrigerators to bowling balls, I was inspired as I spoke with upper-class students about their studies and their goals.  The parents of these students were pros when it came to moving in with one mother saying, “This gets a lot easier over the years.  We have this down to a fine science.”  She joked about the unnecessary items they brought the first year.  This may best have been exemplified by another mother I saw trying to drag a huge bin toward a dorm that I soon found out belonged to a freshman.  I asked if I could help and she said, “No, I can get it.”  I convinced her to let me help and was shocked by the unbelievable weight of the bin; it was the heaviest of the day.  She spoke with an accent and told me she was from Poland.  The bin was too heavy to lift and she said, “Here, wait” as she opened the bin and removed several 20 pound dumbbells.  Her son, who had reappeared, and I then carried the bin up the stairs to the third floor of the dorm as mom followed with the weights. The whole scene seemed a little unusual to me, so I asked one of our faculty members from Poland about this and she said, “That is what good Polish mothers do, they carry the heavy load.  It’s part of our culture.”   That is one of many stories, in addition to the mother from NYC who sings at the Metropolitan Opera and gave me a demonstration of a vocal warm up before singing a few notes.  Her son did not see this, so embarrassment was averted.

At lunch, I sat with some parents who were tired from all of the moving and appreciative of the food provided by the college.  They told me about their daughter and their hopes for her.  On the other side of me were some students who told many stories about why they love SUNY Plattsburgh.

I had a goal of helping students move into every dorm.  One of the benefits of doing this was speaking with the RAs and RDs as they checked students into their rooms.  Many of the RDs are students in our Student Affairs and Higher Education graduate program.  I was proud of the job they were doing and impressed with their professionalism.

Helping with move-in day reinforced my belief that when we educate students, we have to imagine their current families and the generations before them that sacrificed for them to be in our classes.  We also need to think about the positive outcome receiving an education will have on the student and his/her future family.  It isn’t just one student sitting in our class, our generational responsibility is much bigger than that moment; yet, every one of those moments counts in our common purpose of providing the best learning environment and education possible for our students.

By 3:00pm, I met my goal of moving students into every dorm and had almost 18,000 steps on my Fitbit to prove it.  Meeting families, talking with students, and seeing many from the SUNY Plattsburgh community helping students, made for a rewarding day.

I did not tell people who I was as I helped them move unless they asked.  I typically introduced myself, after multiple trips, when everything was moved into the dorm.  People were surprised and grateful.  My favorite question from a family member before I introduced myself was, “Are you a Senior?”  The answer in my head that I didn’t give was, “I will be in 11 years.”