Towers Talk is a WVU podcast featuring Residence Hall Coordinators Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O’Donnell. Each week, the hosts bring you an interview with different members of the WVU community to help you get adjusted to your new campus home!

Join our hosts RHCs Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O'Donnell for a new semester of TTP! This week they interview Eric O’Hara, Associate Director of Housing Services to talk about the Spring 2021 move-in process and other important info. Eric will also talk about the room change process for the year. Listen here! 

Transcription: 

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another semester of Towers Talk. I'm Angela. I’m Patrick. Welcome back to another week. Towers Talk is brought to you by Lyon and Braxton Towers. Towers. You can live anywhere, but when you're here, you're home.

All right, folks. Welcome back to the Spring 21 semester. To start us off today, we're joined by Eric O'Hara, the associate director for Housing Services. Eric works closely with me and Angela and all the other RHCs here at WVU. He works with placement of residents and housing. So thanks so much for joining us today are great. It's great to be here. Awesome. So, Eric, first thing, can you share a bit about your educational background and how you ended up working at WVU?

Sure. Like most college students, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I got on campus and did what I thought I was supposed to do and pick majors that didn't really follow my bachelors later on. I eventually realized, Hey, I love history. Got into history, stayed in that major and wanted to go into education.

What I didn't know was that I wanted to work in higher education, specifically student life. I don't think anybody goes to college saying, you know, one day I think I'm going to work in student life. But that's what happened to me. I got hooked as an RA. I had great opportunities as a graduate hall coordinator.

What does a residence hall coordinator? Probably the best job I've ever had in my life, and then was able to work in student conduct, which was more rewarding than you might think. And then eventually got hooked on the operations side. So I still get to have contact with students and families and sometimes get to pull those levers behind the scenes that make things happen and hopefully make your experience more positive.

Awesome, great, Eric. So can you share a little bit for our student listeners about our move in process this semester? Is there anything new that they would need to know as they arrive on campus for the spring? A lot's changed? This is definitely going to be a more structured process. So number one, we need you to have a movement appointment.

If you haven't done that, make sure you log on to my housing.wvu.edu and click move in appointment and the top left-hand corner. Also make sure that you have that COVID test. We want to make sure that you can get into the classroom as soon as possible. And all students are required to have that before the 16th of January.

So we want to have you in, take the test and be ready to go. With regards to move in. Like I said, it's going to be very structured. So one, we need you to check in at the desk that way they can check you in, in our database. And that's going to give you hard access and the elevator, if applicable to exterior doors.

So we definitely want you to get checked in. Now we've also limited time to an hour. We know that's a little bit awkward and try to spread it out. But what we're trying to do is make this as safe as possible, and also allow you to have some help. So you can have up to two helpers, but we want you to be responsible, wants you to be say, we want you to distance and definitely wear that mask.

We're here to help you. So remember, we've got people at the desk 24 seven. So if you run into any issues, come down and see us and we'll see what we can do to make it better. Awesome. Thank you so much, Eric. That's super helpful. And I know that our listeners definitely appreciate knowing a little bit more, so thanks.

Definitely. All right, Eric. So it's been a pretty difficult year. I like we have not beaten around the Bush on that topic on TT pay, but given, you know, given everything with COVID with the pandemic, um, what are some of the, been some of the biggest challenges for your office specifically? Just like for students where they're constantly pivoting.

We have so many processes, so much history in terms of what we do that we're very good at. Even when we run into unique situations, we can quickly resolve those. And now we're constantly have to constantly having to pivot we're working through different issues that we've never worked for before. And for my team, especially assignments team.

One tough thing for them is. A lot of times when students are going on vacation, those are important transition periods. So things are ramping up for them. So I'm really appreciative of all the hard work that they've done. They've been going at it pretty much since March nonstop, without those normal walls in the process.

And having to adapt and we know that students are too, so that's why we're doing this because we love students who want to support students, but what's been the most difficult thing, pivoting and adapting and overcoming I had to work in and an adapt and overcome into it. Awesome. And we are very thankful for all the staff in the housing office and the assignments office.

We're just, they're great people. So. Absolutely. You guys all work so hard. So, um, I know this is something that always comes up. Uh, can you talk a little bit about the room switch process for students who may not know about that? Um, is there anything that's changed this year? A little bit. We've actually been a little bit, we've always been flexible, so I don't want to say we've been inflexible, but we typically have freezes in place during specific times, but we know that these are awkward times.

So we're still working with call coordinators. As we get involved. We want you to work with your resident assistant you're off your RA and your residence hall coordinator. If you have some special needs. And we're probably going to be much more flexible than we've been in the past in terms of trying to make it we're adapting and overcoming.

I'm going to get that one in there again, but if you're having a problem first step, go to your RA. Go to your residence hall coordinator, find out what's going on, find out what your options are. They're going to utilize all those other resources to try to help you want to make you comfortable in the current environment.

If they can't do that, then we've got other options available. So we'll certainly work with you and you can always call the assignment's office or the housing office, if you, I mean, great. Thank you so much. So, Eric, is there anything else that you think would be helpful for our students to know about housing this semester?

Well, I want them to start thinking about next year. I know we're really focused on the here and now because. It's been a crazy one, but now's the time to start thinking about where you're going to live next year. And I know there's lots of off. You're more than welcome to come back. We would love to have you.

We want you to apply right now to get that spot. That's important to you. We also want you to look at university of parties that focus on that sophomore year, that focused on upper-class and a lot of great options there. Then don't forget that student life has a lot of resources for off campus housing as well.

So including a student attorney that will help the leases and campus life that will help, uh, help you navigate what options are out there. So definitely utilize all the resources available to you. Let's start thinking about it now, where you want to be. Make sure that you have that in place before you leave at the end of the semester.

Great. Thanks. That was really helpful. I'm sure our students that's going to be really a good resource for our too. Awesome. So our super fun question, we like to ask all of our guests, what is one piece of advice? What is one piece of advice you wish to share with our first-year students here at WVU? I know it sounds cliche, but get involved, show up, be present.

I know now it's being present virtually in a lot of ways. But the more that you can get involved, the more that you can be there, the more, the better the experience is going to be for you. And the more likely that you're going to be successful. So we want you to get involved. We want you to use every resource, and if you don't know what that resource is, reach out to somebody because they may know how to point you in the right direction.

Great advice. Thank you so much, Eric. And that's a wrap. Thank you all so much for listening this week. And thank you again, Eric, for your time today, I tune in next week when we interview another member. of the WVU community.