The students are back.
Carrying boxes, jockeying with hand dollies and standing in lines, students moved into the dorms this week at the University of Idaho in Moscow and Washington State University in Pullman. Classes at both universities begin Monday.
“I’m really excited,” said Alyssa Hess, a 17-year-old from Marysville, Wash., after hauling the first load of boxes to her dorm at WSU with the help of her mother and brother.
“I don’t think it’s really soaked in yet that they’re just going to leave me here.”
The return of students to the Palouse marks the start of the college academic year in the region, with other schools set to start fall classes in the coming weeks. It also transforms Moscow and Pullman beyond the campuses.
“You notice it at the grocery store; you notice it when you’re walking downtown,” said Leah Andrews, manager of marketing and recruitment for UI residence halls. “It becomes this somber, tranquil place in the summer, and when the students return there’s this sense of vibrancy that you almost didn’t realize was missing.”
On Thursday, the complex of dorms at the UI was crawling with students, families and volunteers from the student body and faculty. In front of Theophilus tower, a stereo system blasted music that seemed intended more for the parents at one point, as the classic rock staple “Free Bird” played.
UI freshman Sarah Debose was carrying pillows and bags while her father pushed a dolly. They left their Caldwell, Idaho, home Thursday at 4 a.m., and they were filling her dorm room before noon.
“It’s hard moving away from your friends and stuff,” said Debose, who’s looking ahead to a career in science. “But I really, really like studying, and I like math and science.”
First official load
Between 800 and 900 students were expected to move into UI dorms Thursday, the primary move-in day for freshmen and transfer students. Across the border in Pullman, students began moving in Sunday, and Wednesday was move-in for freshmen who already went through summer orientation.
Hess, the WSU student from Marysville, was one of them. She and her mom and brother were lugging in the first of her things Wednesday.
“This is the first official load,” said Alyssa’s mom, Stacy Hess, as they entered her room in the Stephenson complex.
“And there’s plenty more where that came from,” Alyssa said.
At the front entry, residence advisers Erin Lockhert and Michaela Marsh, both juniors, were answering questions about mail delivery, Internet connections and visitors rules.
“How to hook up to the Internet is the main thing,” Marsh said.
“And where to eat,” Lockhert said.
Bob Tattershall, WSU’s director of housing, said having people available to help new students move in and answer questions is an important part of welcoming students to campus. WSU offers a wide range of orientation and housing programs intended to help make freshmen feel welcome and less daunted by the new environment, partly as a way of preventing dropouts.
“We want them to get the feeling that this is going to be a pretty cool place to live and friendly,” Tattershall said.
It’s too soon to say for sure what final enrollments will be; official enrollments are tallied on the 10th day of classes. But officials at WSU are anticipating a smaller freshman class this year, after seeing applications decline by about 2.5 percent.
On Thursday at UI, Patricia Turbiville, 18, was unpacking boxes in her dorm room with her parents and starting to adjust to what seems to her like an urban environment. She graduated with a class of 14 from a school 30 miles from her family’s ranch in Camp Crook, S.D.
“I’m nervous because I’m living 14 hours, 16 hours away from home,” she said. “It’s a lot different.”
Thomas Opryszek, a UI sophomore from Bellingham, was one of an army of students, faculty and staff helping students move in to the UI dorms. Opryszek is a tower mentor, who will spend this year providing guidance and support to freshmen . It’s one way that the UI, like colleges all over the country, is trying to make the university welcoming to freshmen.
He remembers the difficulties he had adjusting to a new environment last year.
“I was fairly confused, trying to figure out what line to stand in, and what form to fill out next,” he said.
Dan Golda was working through the lines at UI on Thursday morning. An 18-year-old from Shelton, Wash., Golda waited in a long line to register for his dorm room – only to find out he’d overlooked the sign telling him he first needed his Vandal card. After he got the card and successfully registered, the key to his room broke off in the lock as he tried to enter for the first time.
Golda’s family – father Mark, mother Silvana and sister Rachel – were waiting around his pile of boxes on the lawn. Mark Golda said his son picked UI after hearing from a counselor that it was “one of the best-kept secrets in the Northwest.”
Mark and Silvana Golda were going through the bittersweet emotions of first-time college parents everywhere.
“The family won’t be the same,” Silvana said. “Part of your family is moving on.”
As he waited to extract the broken key from his lock, Dan managed to keep things in perspective.
“Do you know what time breakfast is served?” he asked an RA.