Georgia Tech's First-Year Students Arrive on Campus for Revamped Move-In and New Week of Welcome

Joshua Stewart

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Roughly 2,600 new Yellow Jackets ferried clothes, computers, refrigerators, and boxes into their on-campus homes August 8 and 9, the first signs of a new academic year beginning at Georgia Tech.

It was no ordinary move-in experience for those first-year students, who were presented with a revamped approach to campus arrival designed to maintain social distancing and limit contact. Among the biggest changes: They selected a specific check-in time slot via a new smartphone app, and they got their keys and BuzzCard without ever leaving their vehicles.

The return to campus move-in and living has all been designed with the health and safety of students and employees as a top priority.

“This has taken months of planning with help from lots of campus partners — from Parking and Transportation, to Environmental Health and Safety, to Facilities, to Dining,” said Sheree Gibson, director of Residence Life. “This is a full campus effort to make this happen in the safest, most socially distant way possible.”

As usual, volunteers were on hand to help families find their way, but there was never more than a handful of students moving into any particular building at one time.

In each dorm, students found a wellness kit with hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and a cloth face covering — complete with the Georgia Tech logo, of course, to get their school spirit collection started.

“The whole Tech community has been working like a well-oiled machine,” first-year student Landon Wilson told WSB-TV. “I am so ready to get back to school after sitting in my room for five months.”

Gibson said, even with the changes, the special feeling of arriving at college was still there.

“The energy of the students and the families is still really high. The ones that I’ve interacted with have been thankful and pleased — they can tell the level of intentionality that has gone into what we’re doing,” Gibson said. “That’s been really affirming.”

The new smartphone app, called Georgia Tech Mobile Ordering, also offers students the keys to other services on campus this fall, including options to make reservations at dining halls or to order food in the Student Center or West Village. (Download the app in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.)

“We’ve completely reevaluated how we deliver dining services on campus,” said Ryan Greene, director of Auxiliary Services. “Our main focus is spreading out food across campus and giving students as many options as we can in different areas. We still want to provide a really good experience — whether that’s extensive grab-and-go options, more food trucks, and pop-up food stands.”

The new app also connects students with a slate of events as part of Week of Welcome, a new initiative to introduce first-year students to campus that has quickly pivoted mostly online.

Students will find virtual panels with older students, virtual comedy shows, an online magic show, and a mix of in-person and online games and activities.

Move-in picks back up August 13 when thousands of returning students start arriving on campus for the fall.