Colonials marked the start of the academic year with lemonade at F Street House and the annual First Night celebration.
By Kristen Mitchell
The sidewalks on George Washington University’s Foggy Bottom campus were crowded Saturday morning as students returned to Washington, D.C., for the fall semester. Volunteers pushed carts piled high with residence hall essentials as first-year students and their families snaked through the unfamiliar terrain, preparing for an emotional goodbye.
“He’s my first, so it’s bittersweet,” said Lauren Vernick, who moved her son Paul Vernick into Thurston Hall. “We’ve been preparing for weeks and months for what we would do and how we would do it, and we’re at that point now. The day is here.”
The Vernicks drove down from Westfield, N.J., Saturday morning. Paul Vernick, a freshman who plans to major in international business, said he’s thrilled to be in Washington and excited for the academic year to start.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’m anxious, but I’m excited.”
The younger Mr. Vernick is following in his father’s footsteps by attending GW. His dad, Mark Vernick, B.A. ’90, said he was overjoyed when his son decided to become a Colonial.
“The excitement of him being in the same school that I went to is superseding the feelings of sadness, but we will call him often and FaceTime him,” Mark Vernick said.
More than 7,500 on-campus residents moved onto the Foggy Bottom and the Mount Vernon campuses this week. George Washington President Thomas LeBlanc and his wife, Anne, walked around Foggy Bottom Saturday morning and greeted students and their families.
The LeBlancs welcomed GW students and parents to campus with a lemonade stand outside of F Street House where Colonials could take a break from moving into the residence halls and grab a glass of lemonade, cold water, a cup of coffee or a light snack. Move-in Day volunteers played music and threw Frisbees to help their peers de-stress during a chaotic afternoon.
George Washington President Thomas LeBlanc greets students and families outside Foggy Bottom residence halls Saturday. (William Atkins/ GW Today)
Perrin Brown moved into District House Saturday determined to make the most of his junior year. The international affairs major from Atlanta plans to look for internships this year that will hopefully lead to a full-time job after graduation. He wants to make memories with his friends in the GW Rugby affinity.
Another year older and wiser, Mr. Perrin had advice for first-year students.
“Don’t stress out,” he said. “GW can be a lot to get used to, especially transitioning from high school. I would just say, give it some time, and things will work out.”
A crew of GW Colonials in the buff and blue led by Dr. LeBlanc greeted families, mainly parents, for Family Orientation Saturday afternoon on the Mount Vernon Campus and at Lisner Auditorium.
Dr. LeBlanc said he has experienced the rhythm of academic life that begins each school year as a student, a parent and an academic officer.
When he walks onto a campus, he said, “I always ask myself, ‘Are we doing the best we can for our students? Are we putting the right faculty in the classrooms? What are the living spaces like? What are the food spaces like?’”
A series of sessions offered information to parents about GW resources that assure everything from student safety in the District of Columbia to academic support to keeping students healthy, with GW’s Chief of Police RaShall Brackney standing by to answer any questions.
The families also heard from Provost Forrest Maltzman.
Jillian Morgan, a freshman from Mahwah, N.J., waited outside Thurston Hall Wednesday with her bags while her parents parked the car. Faced with the prospect of moving them into the building, Ms. Morgan eyed her carefully-packed possessions with resignation.
“I think I packed too much,” she conceded. “My parents were like, ‘this is going to take five trips.’”
Ms. Morgan hasn’t decided on a major yet, but is considering criminal justice in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, she said. She also wants to try out different university organizations and clubs to carve out a niche at GW.
“I’m kind of open to a lot of new things,” she said. “I’m taking classes I didn’t think I was going to be taking, but I was thinking I might as well stretch my wings a little bit and try new things, so we will see where that takes me.”
Following move-in, the university kicked off Welcome Week, a one-week event series designed to introduce students to the GW community, with the annual First Night celebration Saturday evening.
At First Night on University Yard, students enjoyed carnival games and free food from Whole Foods and Dominos. Freshman Zifan Shen and her new Lafayette Hall roommates posed with props in a photo booth-style shoot to unwind at the end of a long day. Ms. Shen came to GW from Frederick, Md., and did not know anyone else at GW when she enrolled. She is hoping to make the most of the next few weeks, she said.
“My residence hall is perfect, and I love my roommates,” she said. “I want to meet new friends and just enjoy college life.”
Scott Nass, a freshman from New York City, had mixed emotions about moving into Potomac House this weekend. He’s excited to start college but saying goodbye to family was hard, he said. Mr. Nass plans to major in accounting and is ready for classes to start.
“I’m just looking forward to classes, getting to know more people,” he said. “I’m taking economics and a geology class I’m excited for.”
Welcome Week continues through Sept. 3 with events all around campus. Below are a few of the highlights:
Late Night at the Rec
Aug. 28, 9 p.m., Learner Health and Wellness Center
There will be laser tag, chair massages, basketball, trivia, free food and more.
Movie on the Yard
Aug. 29, 7 p.m., University Yard.
Watch an outdoor screening of “The Breakfast Club.” Bring blankets and your new friends to recharge after the first two days of class.
First Generation Connect
Aug. 30, 6 p.m., Science and Engineering Hall Atrium
This event is specifically catered toward undergraduate first-generation college students. It’s a chance to connect with offices and student organizations dedicated to helping students succeed.
Library Orientation: Innovation & Entrepreneurship, New Venture Competition, I-Corps
Aug. 31, 12:30 p.m., Gelman Library 219
Stop by Gelman 219 and learn more about the GW Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship programs including the 10th Annual New Venture Competition, the I-Corps program and other great resources for you to become a successful student entrepreneur.
The Midnight Monument Run
Aug. 31, 11:30 p.m., Marvin Center
Run through Washington, D.C., at night to see the historic monuments and memorials. If you enjoy running, this three-mile run past dozens of local monuments will be a great tour of the city from a new perspective.
Sustainability Open House
Sept. 1, Noon, Science and Engineering Hall Atrium
Learn about GW’s commitment to sustainability and meet people involved in sustainability efforts in the community.
Multicultural Student Services Center Block Party
Sept. 1, 4 p.m., Marvin Center, 3rd floor terrace
This 13th annual multicultural event gives new students the chance to meet members of prominent student organizations, connect with faculty and staff and enjoy cultural performances and music.
EngageGW: Student Organizations and University Services Fair
Sept. 2, 1 p.m., Kogan Plaza
Learn about GW’s student organizations and the activities and opportunities to get involved.
Fall Fest 2017
Sept. 2, 4 p.m., University Yard
Join Program Board for the university’s annual Fall Fest on Saturday. Come early for live music, free food and games.