Volunteers help move hundreds of Southeast students

Friday, August 20, 2004

More than 600 Southeast Missouri State University students and staff found it easy to work up a sweat Thursday, hauling new students' computers, printers, small refrigerators and thousands of boxes of clothes from crowded campus parking lots to dorm rooms.

More than 1,200 freshmen and transfer students moved into residence halls at the Cape Girardeau school in preparation for the start of classes on Monday.

In all, about 2,300 students are expected to live in campus housing this fall. More than half are first-year students who will be living away from home for the first time, school officials said.

Some students began moving in at 6 a.m., although the rush didn't start until about 8 a.m. and continued into the afternoon in sizzling summer heat with temperatures in the 90s.

Shawn Wilding, a graduate student at Southeast from Wright City, Mo., wiped the sweat from his face as he took a break from hauling students' belongings up stairs and in the elevators at the Towers complex with its four 12-story residence halls.

Wilding said students seemed to be more loaded down with belongings than in past years.

"I've seen more couches this year than ever before," he said.

Under a nearby tent, volunteers cooled off under a misting spray.

Brittni Snidle, a freshman from Festus, Mo., filled up the family van with everything from plastic storage containers filled with clothes to rolled-up carpets, a computer and a small vacuum cleaner.

"Believe me, she has lots of clothes," said her mother, Carolyn, as she unpacked box after box from the back of the van.

While Snidle and other students were moving in, Nick Cody, a freshman from St. Louis, sat quietly in his ninth-floor Towers East dorm room playing the hearts card game on his computer.

"I got here at 6 a.m.," Cody said. "I was the first person on this floor. There was no line at the elevator."

But by mid-morning, the lines at the elevators were long and many students and volunteers hauled belongings up the stairs of the Towers dorms rather than wait.

"That is the bottleneck in the system," said Bruce Skinner, associate director of residence life at Southeast, as he watched students moving in at Towers. There are only two elevators for each 12-story building.

But Skinner said overall the move in worked well. "I don't know if we could have done anything much smoother," he said. About 800 students had moved in before noon and most of the rest arrived by early afternoon, Skinner said.

Many of the students came to campus with two vehicles filled with belongings, he said. On average, each new student showed up with three helpers, adding to the campus crowd.

The university put up a temporary black-and-white sign on Henderson Avenue warning motorists trying to get across town to avoid the section of New Madrid Street that runs through the campus. "Congestion Ahead: Avoid New Madrid," the sign read.

Skinner said the sign was added late in the move-in day last August and seemed to help reduce traffic delays on New Madrid Street.

Students checked in at the Student Recreation Center before traveling to their residence halls to unload their belongings.

Theresa Haug Belvin, coordinator of new student programs, said move-in day was a success because of all the volunteer help. "Without them, we could not move in over 1,000 students in just 10 hours," she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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