Finance freshman Nathan Nazareno and his parents arrived on campus an hour before his scheduled move-in at 8 a.m. on Friday in anticipation of clogged traffic and check-in lines. The roads to the dorm halls were still blocked off, so they sat in line in their car until a parent stepped out and removed the blockage, opening the entrance to East McDonel Hall.
MSU’s residence hall move-in took place from Aug. 26 to 28. Students like Nazareno who moved in early avoided the rush.
His parents parked the car along the curb, and coordinators in green shirts began directing the line of cars.
“One of the guys was like, ‘You got to hurry this up,’” Nazareno said. “But there was no one else there, there were like five cars. No one else was pulling up at the time. But yeah, they wanted us to be faster.”
Nazareno walked inside and noticed more people in green shirts at the doors. He gave his student ID to the front desk and they gave him the key to his dorm room on the fourth floor. After transferring his belongings from the car to the big green carts, they finished unpacking and called maintenance to loft one of the beds – a process that took about an hour.
Selecting an early move-in slot paid off for Nazareno whose parents left by 10 a.m. However, it started to pick up shortly thereafter. There was a gray overcast and light rain for most of the morning, and with that, there wasn’t much traffic circulating campus. The rain began to die off, the sun broke through the clouds and the concrete sidewalks glistened as the line of cars outside Brody Hall and along Michigan Avenue slowly extended down to the East Lansing Hair Company.
“I know Brody was bad,” Nazareno said. “My friend was in line for like two and a half hours.”
He said his friend's move-in time was 10:30 a.m.
As peak time approached, stop-and-go traffic reached the perimeter of campus and parents found it difficult to park, resorting to parking their cars in the grass outside residence halls such as Snyder Phillips and Mason. In Nazareno’s own dorm hall, he said he noticed the lobby was so crowded that people couldn’t get into the elevators.
Along with countless boxes, mini-fridges and U-Hauls, move-in weekend has brought a record number of first-year students to Michigan State’s campus. With more than 9,800 students, the 2022 freshman class is the largest in MSU history.
Michigan State administration has been preparing for the increase in students for months. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. welcomed them at a press conference on Aug. 27.
“To each and every one of the students who are coming in and to their families as well, welcome to Michigan State University, we are so glad you’re here,” Stanley said.
Provost Teresa Woodruff said the biggest concern is making sure students feel at home on campus.
“We’ve spent this whole last six months … making sure that every part of our university is working together and able to accommodate every student's needs,” Woodruff said. “Even though we’re one of the biggest universities … over 50,000 students right here, we really think every student needs to feel that they belong individually.”
Even more history was made this weekend with a record 32,000 pounds of cardboard recycled on Aug. 26. On top of the boxes students bring with them, many families ship items to the university ahead of time. According to Senior Vice President Vennie Gore, 5,000 packages had already arrived on the morning of Aug. 27.
Stanley said the university’s staff is prepared to take care of the large incoming class following a year of staffing shortages, particularly in the dining halls.
“We still have a few vacancies but we’re really much more in terms of our capacities,” Stanley said. “We think we’re going to be ready and willing and able to take care of all of our students.”
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With the high number of incoming students, several dorm rooms have been temporarily turned into transitional housing: housing one extra person, either three people in what is traditionally a double or five people in a quad.
Marketing freshman Sydney Hagen is one of less than 200 students that are living in transitional housing as of move-in weekend. She said she had no concerns about living in a transitional dorm and was excited to meet the rest of her roommates.
“I brought a lot of stuff that was my biggest worry,” Hagen said. “I’m an only child though, so it’s definitely something to get used to.”
According to Gore, transitional housing is not a new accommodation at MSU. It has been used in the past few years and is usually broken down throughout the beginning of the semester. Stanley said housing issues typically work themselves out as students either don’t arrive on campus or choose to leave early.
“During the course of the year, and particularly immediately after (move-in), there are people who will not show up for their rooms,” Stanley said. “We know there will be what we call a melt in the number of people, so, that usually opens up rooms.”
Students also have the option to stay in transitional housing as long as every roommate agrees. If a student is uncomfortable in the temporary housing, they will be contacted as rooms open up and will be moved on a first-come-first-served basis.
“There are a number of students who move in three to a room and then they decide, ‘Hey, I like my roommates’ and stay there,” Gore said at a press conference. “Currently 19 of them just decided, ‘I like everybody, we’re gonna stay here,’ and they get a cost differential so that works for them.”
“What I saw in the data is that students who live on for two years are those that are most likely to complete their degree,” Woodruff said. “And it doesn't matter where you come from, in the United States or abroad, or what your major is, you just are more likely to succeed.”
According to Gore, the reinstated requirement is not impacting the need for transitional housing. Part of this is due to the number of exemptions second-year and transfer students are able to apply for, including students who are over the age of 20, married, have veteran status or are living in group housing.
“We’ve granted a number of exemptions so that's helping reduce the numbers of students, reducing a bit of the crowding,” Stanley said. “Many of these people really want to have two years on campus. … It's really a way in which to help ensure students’ success and that's a core mission at Michigan State University.”
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