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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘This is who we are’: Whitworth moves in one of its largest and most diverse incoming classes ever

Whitworth University will welcome one of its biggest and most diverse incoming classes this year, with close to 650 freshmen enrolled in time for the organized chaos of move-in day on Saturday.

Matheus Silva was one of the expected 29 international students, the most ever in Whitworth’s history, to make the brave and maybe a little bit crazy decision to move across the world to get an education in North Spokane.

“My family thinks I’m insane,” said Silva, who came all the way from Brazil and is the first in his family to attend college in the U.S. “They said I have to call them every day while I’m here.”

Altogether, the class of 2025 is 37% people of color, 37% first-generation college students and 6% international students.

“The experiences and stories that these students bring to us, it’s good for the institution and it’s good for us,” said Scott McQuilkin, Whitworth University interim president. “Diversity is critical.”

The incoming class was so big that the Whitworth football team, after winning a big game on Friday, didn’t get to sit around and relax on Saturday. With 650 students to move in, players had to pitch in by carrying boxes and fridges for freshmen.

Despite the long day, the players said they were happy to contribute and get a little workout.

“The school has been working hard to take care and feed us for training camp,” said Bryce Hornbeck, a senior on the team. “We’re happy to give back a little bit.”

Many of the students were overjoyed that the school made the decision to go fully in-person.

“You didn’t really feel like you were actually in school,” Emily Batcheldor, a transfer student, said about her previous college that was online for COVID-19. “Hopefully this year will be a bit more normal.”

Whitworth is going all in-person this fall after a year of hybrid learning. Part of the in-person policy is that all students who don’t have an authorized religious or medical exemption must get vaccinated.

McQuilkin said the decision was made so that everybody at the school could stay safe, and students could get the full college experience , just as they did during move-in day.

“What you’re seeing today, this is who we are,” McQuilkin said. “Our staff feels it, the incoming families feel it.”