FARMINGTON — Freshman students arrived at the University of Maine at Farmington campus on Tuesday, August 18, to receive their coronavirus test and move in to residence halls. Freshmen then spent the following two days confined to their rooms and hopefully forming a positive bond with their roommate while they waited for their COVID-19 test results.

A crew of campus police, student orientation leaders (OL) and student community assistants (CA) guided the freshmen and their families through the move-in process. Student OLs and CAs were required to be back on campus by August 11 and undergo coronavirus testing to prepare for the upcoming orientation week.

Freshmen moved in to resident halls at the University of Maine at Farmington on Tuesday, August 18. A crew of student workers along with campus police ensured everyone wore masks during the move-in process. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

“Its the thing I look forward to every year, this is my third year doing it,”OL and senior Ripley Biggs said outside of a residence hall on Main Street. “I just love the idea of helping the freshmen move in and welcome them to the community.”

Parents stood outside of resident halls guarding their children’s belongings while they moved carts and arm fulls of books and clothing to their new rooms. Only one family member was allowed to enter the resident halls at a time making moving in a longer process for students.

Biggs said that the biggest challenge had been enforcing the mask rule among parents and relatives.

“It’s just masks, people are not wanting to wear them and so having to enforce it has not been fun. They want us to enforce it, but then also, student to student it’s a little bit easier than…” Biggs trailed off while she watched campus police hand a disposable mask to a parent.

On High Street, Merilyn Mills of Eastport waited outside of Mallett Hall while her husband and son brought a load of  belongings to his new room.

“The line was long to check in because you had to get the ID with the [COVID-19] test,” Mills said while sitting at a picnic table in the shade. “That was over two hours of standing in line to get through all of that whole process, but then after that it’s just normal.”

Despite the long wait, Mills exuded happiness for her son’s new residence.

“We’ve all been in to peek!” she said, and added that her son was planning on deferring a year if UMF hadn’t offered in-person courses.

Student orientation leaders and community assistants stood outside of Mallett Hall on High Street answering questions from families and guiding students to their rooms.

“I think everyone’s been really respectful and compliant with the regulations we put in place,” OL Sam Shirley said. “I think everyone just wants to see their kids safe.” 

Shirley said that UMF had less than half of its usual 40 orientation leaders available to assist the 350 new freshmen moving in that day.

From left to right, orientation leader Brooklyn Miller and community assistants Nina Rosen, Sam Shirley and Enrico Enchevarria helped new students move in to resident halls at the University of Maine at Farmington campus on August 18. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

Even with under staffing and some initial hesitations, CA Enrico Enchevarria said that he was ultimately happy with his decision to return to campus and assist with the move-in day.

“The university has done a phenomenal job of trying to make this work out for everyone. We have been working as an entire staff across campus on how we can safely work with all of the residents, and I know professors are doing the same as well,” Enchevarria said. “Things are going really smoothly, just, there’s no manual to a pandemic so we’ve been doing the best we can to work with everyone to make sure they’re as safe as possible.” 

The CAs and OLs were also ecstatic to see how happy the freshmen were about their first day on campus. They thought this enthusiasm was related to the new students experiencing a disappointing end to their senior year with many graduations and proms canceled.

“I think they’re very excited to jump into something new,” OL Brooklyn Miller said.

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