Thousands come to campus for early check-in

Sunday, August 11, 2013 | 7:23 p.m. CDT; updated 8:40 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 12, 2013
Students move into Jones and Center Hall on Sunday at MU. Residents move in to the halls early to participate in panhellenic recruitment starting Monday morning. The fall semester at MU begins Aug. 19.

COLUMBIA — Incoming MU freshman Ashlie Elver, 17, of Overland Park, Kan., stood in the shade of a tree in front of her new home, Jones Hall, and surveyed the belongings that lay scattered around her.

“I’m really not wanting to take all this stuff up six flights of stairs,” she said, eying the bulky, boxed futon at her feet.

Elver was one of about 2,000 students who arrived on campus Sunday for early check-in, a day filled with emotion, both hopeful and bittersweet, and tempered with a healthy dose of organized confusion.

A line of more than 40 people snaked out of Jones Hall, starting from the elevator. The scene around them resembled a huge, unruly yard sale, with compact refrigerators, microwaves and containers of clothes strewn in clumps on the ground.

Grace Cash, 18, of St. Louis, was one of those in line. Wearing sunglasses and precariously balancing a fridge on a dolly, the future nursing student talked about her excitement at the prospect of joining a sorority as well as her relief that the move was almost over. Her mother, Nancy, 49, spoke about her mixed emotions at the thought of her daughter moving away from home, but tried to look on the bright side.

“Well, my house is cleaner now that she’s moved out,” she said.

The desire to join a sorority was the reason most of these young women chose Sunday to move in. Indeed, about 85 percent of students moving in Sunday were planning to join a sorority, Frankie D. Minor, director of the Department of Residential Life, said. The remainder of the students included those from music groups, ROTC and athletic teams.

On-campus enrollment varies each year, but this year Minor expects it to be average. The past few years have had some record-breaking freshman classes.

“It’s pretty typical,” Minor said. “The numbers for (sorority) recruitment are a little high.”

Minor was optimistic about how the check-in process went Sunday.

“The weather’s cooperating and people have been very patient,” he said, noting that the move-in process can be hectic with thousands of people converging into the same areas.

To combat some of the confusion, a cadre of about 420 full-time and student employees directed Sunday’s early check-in efforts, Minor said.

By Wednesday, when official check-in starts, Minor said the Department of Residential Life will have almost half of its students already checked in.

Paige Gorham, 18, of St. Louis, is another incoming freshman eager to participate in a sorority rush. Her parents, Cindy, 48, and Bill, 49, as well as her little sister, Ellie, 16, were all outside Lathrop Hall to help her move in Sunday.

Cindy and Bill Gorham are MU alumni. Cindy wants her daughter to get a good education from MU that leads to a good job, but when trying to identify the most important thing she took away from her own college experience, Cindy was quickly interrupted by her husband..

“Well, she met me here,” he said, readying another cartload of stuff to take upstairs.

Once they'd made some more progress unpacking the car, Ellie was instructed to get a place in line. Before she ran off, she stopped to think about how her sister leaving might affect her.

“I’m a little sad that she’s leaving home," she said. "But I’m excited to see what she becomes in life.”

Supervising editor is Shaina Cavazos.

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