BATON ROUGE - As many students pack up to prepare for moving into dorms, Southern University has reworked that process to make it safer even though it sacrifices some school traditions.
"The move-in process had to change," Tracie Abraham, Southern's executive director of student services and residential life said. "We could not cram everybody in the lobbies of the facilities because we would not be in compliance with the social distancing guidelines."
Roughly 1,000 new Jaguars will be welcomed to campus and their dorm rooms Tuesday. This year, COVID-19 has forced school officials to redesign the entire process, typically known to bring large celebratory crowds to campus.
"It's going to look totally different," Abraham said. "Families will drive in and remain in their vehicles. We will give them their entire move-in packet under the tent and the students will go directly to their room."
Four check-in times over the course of the day will reduce the number of people in the buildings at one time. Students will have two hours to move in and can have no more than two people help, which will give the event a different emotional resonance.
"Families come, grandparents come, little brothers, sisters, everybody comes to help move in," Abraham said. "However this year, we can't allow your entire family to come. Tomorrow that's probably going to be the biggest change, that they're going to have to move all those things by themselves, and we won't have all the help."
Abraham and the rest of Southern's Residential Life and Housing team has spent the summer months crafting this altered move-in plan, working with other universities in the state and across the country. While she has nerves ahead of the unusual move-in process, she also knows the campus is ready for what is always a big day for staff and students.
"We're just trying to make it a safe environment as possible for all the students," Abraham said. "The families can leave. The parents can leave with some peace of mind that their students are being left in good hands."