Near-perfect weather greeted the Gustavus Adolphus College Class of 2024 as students arrived on the hilltop campus overlooking the Minnesota River Valley on Sunday, August 30, eager to begin their journey as college students despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caution mixed with excitement as students moved belongings into residence halls while social distancing and greeting their new roommates through masks. No matter the circumstances, this was still the first official day of Gustavus residency for the Class of 2024, and a pandemic couldn’t dampen it.
In some logistical ways, it was actually a little easier. Most students had already moved in their belongings in the preceding days and weeks, allowing for quick 15-minute drop-offs—less sweat and chaos, more time to soak in the campus, get to know their new classmates, and exchange lingering goodbyes with their families.
“I like it. So far it’s less stressful. Mostly it’s clothes and food and odds and ends and people know where to go,” said Eric Manuel ‘21, who was part of a bare-bones crew helping direct folks at Norelius Hall.
Families moved in smaller items and shored up final details. “Two weeks ago, there were 12 of us families moving in on campus.” said parent Barb Juelich (Vadnais Heights), mother of first-year student Mary Juelich ‘24. They came back with her for the small stuff. “I like that it’s a limited move-in,” Mary’s father, Jim, added. And he likes that Gustavus is allowing first-years to live together on campus. “[This class] made do with the end of the last school year, and it was a long summer.”
“Yeah, some parents are more ready for this semester than their kids,” Barb said.
Despite the changes, Gustie Greeters were out in full force. Move-in day wouldn’t be the same without them, though they were six feet apart and sometimes chanting, “I say social, you say distance!” Asked about the new cheer, the response was simple: “Greeters gonna greet,” they said.
Tyler Gravem ’24 (Cambridge) drove himself to his first official day, bringing a handful of last items to his third-floor room. He hadn’t yet met his roommate, but they’ve been talking via social media all year, like many in the Class of 2024. “It’s fun. I’m kind of excited,” he said. A pitcher on the baseball team, he has also met some of his teammates already. His answer to what he’s most looking forward to is a timeless one for Gustie athletes: “Baseball.”
During a virtual welcome, President Rebecca M. Bergman greeted the Class of 2024. “We are dedicated to you as students—to provide you with excellence in academics and a wide variety of co-curricular activities. Most importantly we are dedicated to providing you with a home where you can feel safe, make new friends, and get involved in the life of the College,” she said.
“By working together as a community, we can make this work for the entire fall semester,” President Bergman added after reviewing some COVID-19 safety tips. “Thank you for doing your part. Remember that Gusties ROAR—Respect Others and Act Responsibly.”
After the welcome, first-year orientation began in earnest as students met with their Greeter Groups, got to know one another, and explored the campus. In addition to traditional orientation activities like small group meetings and introductions to various campus services, new technologies were incorporated, including use of the Guidebook App and a virtual multi-day campus scavenger hunt using GooseChase.
“It was definitely took some creative problem-solving to rework both training and orientation, but watching all of our hard work come to fruition has been on of the most rewarding things to come out of my Gustavus experience,” Gustie Greeter coordinator Tori Franciosi ’21 said.
“Orientation kicked off well! We have seen and heard all of the positive interactions our Greeters and first years have been having,” Gustie Greeter coordinator Lawrence Hiquiana ’21 added. “We all went into this training and orientation knowing that we would need to be creative and accepting of change, and because of this I think this special group of Greeters has done a wonderful job introducing the new class to life on the hill in this crazy time.”
On Tuesday, students will meet with their First-Term Seminar (FTS) or Three Crowns Curriculum professors, who will serve as their academic advisors as the students begin their academic journey at Gustavus. Classes, which will take place online for the first three and a half weeks with the exception of FTS/CUR-100, officially begin on Wednesday, September 2.
As the Gustavus Class of 2024 prepares to launch into the Gustavus experience, students know that this semester is a special one—set against the backdrop of a pandemic, with new safety measures in place and a limited number of on-campus residents to start the year. And yet, the overwhelming feeling is one of excitement and anticipation.
“It’s a weird way to start college, but it’s weird for all of us,” Kathleen Grube ’24 (south Minneapolis) said. “You look around and think, ‘That could be my best friend in a few years.’ We’ll bond in different ways.”
with reporting by Stephanie Ash
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin