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Cougs on the move: Students converge on Pullman for move-in day

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 16, 2018, 9:23 p.m.

Pullman streets were noticeably more crowded Wednesday as students numbering in the thousands converged on the town for Washington State University’s official move-in day of the year.

Traffic along Stadium Way, which cuts through the heart of WSU’s campus, was slow and relentless Wednesday afternoon. As pedestrians and cars took turns navigating the roadway, swarms of students could be spotted pushing large, wheeled carts filled with fans, area rugs, hot plates and other assorted knickknacks.

Despite the seeming hustle, incoming freshman Natasha Root, 18, said she was impressed with the organization of the operation.

“It was much smoother than I thought it was going to be,” Root said. “We were terrified, bringing dollies, thinking we’d have to walk up 11 flights of stairs.”

Root said she was particularly impressed with the way vehicles were shuttled through drop-off areas where residents’ belongings could be quickly unloaded.

While about 50 percent of students move into their Pullman residences during the official start of WSU’s orientation for new students, known as the Week of Welcome, WSU Vice President of Marketing and Communications Phil Weiler said the other half of the student body has likely already made themselves at home. The first day of classes is Monday.

“The official move-in day is today, which is Wednesday of Week of Welcome, but we allow some students to come early over the weekend if they so choose,” Weiler said. “That helps alleviate the congestion – in fact, my sense today is that it’s actually a little bit less congested than it was even over the weekend.”

With this year’s record enrollment, school officials had to make a number of adjustments to ensure there were enough beds to accommodate the more than 4,300 freshmen who are required to live on campus for their first year. Even after increasing the number of beds in many units, offering a 25 percent discount to students who volunteer to live in three-person dorms and reopening the once-defunct Waller Hall, more than 200 sophomores, juniors and seniors were wait-listed for on-campus housing. However, WSU has no obligation to find residences on campus for upperclassmen, Weiler said, and students know that. He noted that when the school found 82 vacancies to offer wait-listed students, 85 people were approached and only 10 agreed to live on campus.

“You’re not supposed to live on campus once you are not a freshman anymore,” Weiler said. “If we have excess capacity, we make that available to sophomores, juniors and seniors, but when they express their interest, they know that they need to find other arrangements.”

In nearby “Apartment Land” – a dense collection of residential complexes near the northern edge of campus – activity was relatively more sedate. Debbie Thompsen, a manager with property management company DABCO, said the most active time for residents moving in is usually spread out over a couple of weeks.

“A lot of people just get here a week or two before school starts and get all settled in,” Thompsen said.

This part of the year is often the last chance would-be residents have to find a place to live, Thompsen said. With 12 complexes on the northern side of town alone, DABCO is one of the largest off-campus housing groups in town. Even so, she said, vacancies are filling up fast.

“There’s a few here and there at each of the properties, but not many,” Thompsen said. “It is changing by the moment.”


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