Many hands make the load lighter for student move-out

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Move Out2

At the close of a typical academic year, students normally have a few days to move out of their residence halls. This year, everything is completely different. “One of the biggest challenges was uncertainty in regard to who would help us staff our move-out, as well as what timeline our move-out would occur,” explained Leah Kicinski, assistant director of residential life, who worked with campus partners to organize the on-campus arrival of the student move-out that occurs from May 22 to June 12. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, precautions had to be taken to make sure move-out  was safe for students, their families and friends as well as staff. As a result, move-out was extended to three weeks so fewer students would be in the halls at a time.

To address multiple challenges, teams in Student Affairs created solutions that kept the health and safety of the entire Notre Dame family at the forefront. They knew that directing the move-out of thousands of students while maintaining social distancing and following necessary safety protocols would require the help of hundreds of staff to step up and volunteer.

As you may expect, Notre Dame staff from across campus were happy to serve. “There has been a tremendous amount of support for on-campus spring move-out,” said Breyan Tornifolio, director of residential life, who directed the move-out with the aid of many others. Student Affairs needed hundreds of staff to serve in roles as parking lot attendants, ushers, building coordinators and runners, and nearly 350 staff from across campus volunteered in one of those roles while another 100 staff from University Enterprises and Events served as ushers and parking attendants.

All of the roles worked in tandem with each other to support students and their families. The parking lot attendants welcomed parents and students back to campus, verified their appointments and directed them first to a staging area and then to close parking by each residence hall, while the building coordinators and runners checked guests into the hall and ensured that health and safety guidelines were being followed. 

“In a time of such uncertainty, staff have demonstrated the true meaning of what it is to be a member of the Notre Dame family,” Tornifolio shared. “Each staff member has provided kindness, compassion and care to every shift.” 

Countless students and parents have expressed their gratitude for staff and for the care that the University has taken to plan a safe and easy move-out process. "I can’t thank the volunteers enough for being here today, on a Sunday,” said Laine Davison ‘21 who moved out of Flaherty Hall. “To see you guys on campus, we’re reminded that we matter. It just shows that people who love Notre Dame always go above and beyond for Notre Dame students. It’s very sweet. I also want to thank the professors for being so patient with us and for being so accommodating. I was overwhelmed by the amount of kindness they showed us during this really odd time."

“Notre Dame really stepped up and made move-out so convenient for us,” said Gretchen Davison, Laine’s mother. “We’re just really grateful. We had the whole floor to ourselves today. It felt very safe.”

The local community and Goodwill Industries of Michiana will also benefit by the expedited move-out this year. "Normally there’s a lot of folding and then refolding and then deciding whether to donate items,” Gretchen Davison said. “I think I got her to let go more than she normally would have.”

“I was like, if it doesn’t spark joy, give it away and nothing was sparking joy for me today, so it’s all in the Goodwill pile,” Laine said.

Several of the staff who volunteered for the student move-out also volunteered in March when students needed their textbooks and other essentials mailed to them when it became clear that the rest of the semester would be completed remotely. 

While staff volunteered for a variety of reasons, many of them simply wanted to pitch in and show their support to students and their families, especially during the pandemic. “So many of our colleagues have been working nonstop since March to solve new, impossible challenges every day,” said Amanda Retartha, director of foundation relations. “Volunteering during move-out is a way for me to acknowledge and support their efforts while showing students and families that the Notre Dame we all love is still here for them.”

Contributing departments

In addition to about 100 staff from University Enterprises and Events, staff from the following departments assisted in the efforts: 

  • Accounts Payable 
  • Admissions
  • Alumni Association 
  • Art, History & Design
  • Athletics 
  • Center for Social Concerns
  • Enrollment
  • Facilities, Design, & Operations
  • Finance
  • Graduate School
  • Human Resources
  • Keough School of Global Affairs
  • Law School
  • Mendoza College of Business 
  • McGrath Institute
  • Notre Dame International
  • OIT 
  • Office of Mission Engagement & Church Affairs
  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Provost
  • Office of Sustainability
  • OPAC
  • Procurement
  • Student Affairs 
  • University Relations

Originally published by Marissa Gebhard at on June 01, 2020.