Monroe Park campus welcomes its largest freshman class ever, again

Photo by Jon Mirador.
Photo by Jon Mirador.

On Saturday, parents and students lined up with suitcases and makeshift carts outside the doors of the five freshman residence halls — Johnson, Rhoads, Brandt, the Honors College, and Gladding Residence Center — prior to beginning the unpacking awaiting them beyond the elevator line.

Reuban Rodriguez — the associate vice provost and dean of student affairs who wandered the streets monitoring the day’s progress — said nearly 85 percent of the largest freshman class VCU has ever brought in arrived to the Monroe Park campus Saturday. About 4,600 students strong, this number broke last fall’s record of more than 4,200 students, according to university public affairs.

The new GRC, combined with the anticipated opening of Monroe Park, is “really going to change the dynamic of the freshman experience,” Rodriguez said, due to the more fluid, centralized locations of freshman dorms between Franklin and Main streets.

Freshman Marie Bonenfant — who plans on concentrating in illustration after finishing the VCUarts art foundation program — traveled from Hampton, N.H., and said it was “more exciting to see so many people.”

Bonenfant said she looks forward to VCU’s larger social communities like Rhoads Hall, in addition to participating in smaller communities like the Honors College, where class enrollment is more exclusive.

Senior Eboni Felton, a second-year Residential Assistant and psychology major, said she was excited to help at her second move-in as an R.A.

“It’s a bittersweet moment because it reminds me of my freshman year,” Felton said. “I like to see the excitement on the parents’ faces knowing their kids are embarking on a new journey.”

Last year, Felton worked at West Grace South residence hall, so she said she definitely felt the difference this year with the larger wave of students in front of Brandt and Rhoads residence halls.

Viveca Cathell — an undeclared freshman waiting in line outside Brandt and Rhoads halls with her dad Rob Cathell — said she was “excited for city life,” but anxious to meet her roommate, who was randomly assigned to her from the housing application process.

In the thick of the congestion on “the patio” — Brandt and Rhoads halls’ entryway that students frequent on sunny days — Rob Cathell was experiencing his first taste of moving a child into a college dorm.

After being told this was the largest freshman move in VCU has ever seen, Rob Cathell said “for not knowing what to expect, it’s going pretty well,” before hurrying off as the next person in line for the elevator.

Nia Tariq, News Editor

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