New students have been flocking to the Montclair State University campus in great numbers over the past few days with freshman move-in day, Red Hawk Day and the first day of the semester all happening in a short span of time. The transition for most new students has gone smoothly so far, however, and the semester is already off to a steady start.
Move-in day for freshmen, Aug. 30, was understandably busy, with signs and officials spread out all over campus to direct traffic and Residential Life officials stationed around each residence hall to answer questions and expedite move-ins.
Most freshmen felt that move-in day ran smoothly. A group of five girls at Red Hawk Day all agreed that move-in was a bit chaotic, but overall a fun experience. Another student, freshman Psychology major Cat Figueiredo, shared her reaction to the first few days of living in a residence hall, saying, “So far, I think it’s a beautiful campus.”
This year, move-in day provided more services to students than in years past. A Mr. Softee ice cream truck offered free ice cream to movers and passersby outside of Bohn and Blanton Halls, Hawk Crossings served as a hydration station for movers in the 90-degree heat and several university-affiliated social media accounts asked students to share their move-in struggles and triumphs using the hashtag #MontclairMoveIn. The social media interaction allowed students to begin bonding with the campus community even before their first floor meeting.
Red Hawk Day, an all-day event focused on providing new students with services, information, community-building activities and an outlet for socialization, occurred on Sept. 1, another successful event before the official start of the semester on Sept. 2.
Red Hawk Day started with a convocation ceremony to mark the start of each freshman’s undergraduate career. The ceremony featured speeches from university officials, including Dean Shannon Gary, President Susan Cole and a keynote speaker, Montclair State faculty member Gerard Citro.
President Cole’s speech outlined recent and upcoming changes to the university, including the introduction of new faculty members and information about the new School of Business and Center for Environmental and Life Science buildings. She also shared an excerpt from a Donna Tartt novel to inspire students to seek out the good in life, which can be full of hardships.
She ended by emphasizing the civic duty of education, recalling her convocation speech from ten years earlier, just days after Hurricane Katrina caused massive destruction in the Southern United States. “Today, how as a nation would we respond to another Katrina?” President Cole asked. “I said 10 years ago and I say again today, we are a significant part of the long-term to [that question], because we shape and prepare the people who will shape the society and we should never underestimate the importance of what we are doing here…. So, let us recommit ourselves today to the importance of our calling. And with that thought and with the utmost sincerity, I wish each and every one of you a very good year, filled with accomplishment and satisfaction.”
Students responded well to President Cole’s words, with Figueiredo saying that Cole seems like a good president.
Another favorite speaker was Citro, who acted as the keynote speaker. He motivated students with stories from his youth and his interest in playing basketball.
“[Citro] explained that he had an injury due to all the bad decisions he made, like doing drugs, and he ended up not being able to play basketball,” Figueiredo said in summary. “As he got older, he redeemed himself and when he was 39, he became Montclair State’s oldest basketball player for 2 years when he played from ages 39 to 40. It was really inspirational.” Freshmen Juan Diaz and Omar Gallardo agreed that Citro’s speech was one of the highlights of Red Hawk Day.
Following convocation, the day was relatively open to attendants. New students were encouraged to attend sessions on what to expect during the first week and Dr. Gilbert’s annual motivational speech about making the most of college, but they were also free to explore campus, get acquainted with new buildings, watch a soccer game and check out the activities fair in the Student Center Quad.
In terms of organization, several people commented that this year’s Red Hawk Day ran more smoothly than in years past.
“I think that Red Hawk Day continuously improves year after year,” said graduate assistant for Counseling and Psychological Services Maysoon Salem. “The weather’s really great, which is helping and there are a lot of students coming up and asking questions. It seems like the students are very enthusiastic and ready to learn, which is great.”
One of the workers from the catering company hired for Red Hawk Day also commented that this event has been more organized and pleasant than similar events that she has worked at other universities. “From my point of view, it looked like it was so well-organized,” she said. “Generally, the people who came by were so happy. Even when they asked for something we didn’t have, they were really upbeat.”
According to students and workers, the first few days of the semester have been an overall success, leaving many to look forward to the year ahead with excitement.