Students inundate Iowa campuses as move in begins

UI officials: 'It's important to be patient'

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IOWA CITY — Bunk beds, mini-fridges, microwaves and hangers.

Parents filling bins with bags, stuffed with pants and sweaters.

Roommates sorting mine from yours. Checking out the names on doors.

The ritual restarts anew.

Behold, the move-in tango.


“Just throw it on the floor,” Mackenzie Hill on Tuesday told one of several helpers, who ignored her and tossed an armful of shirts onto her new bed in the Burge Residence Hall room she’ll call home during her freshman year at University of Iowa.

Hill, 18, of Cedar Rapids, this week joins about 6,700 Hawkeyes expected to live on campus in the upcoming academic year. Some got in early over the weekend — including resident assistants and move-in volunteers. Between 4,300 and 4,600 are expected to descend on the campus’ 14 residence halls by Thursday.

A similar scene is unfolding on university and college campuses across the state — with many students starting back to class next week. Iowa State University, like UI, started standard residence hall move-in Tuesday, with a large chunk of this year’s expected 12,000-plus on-campus residents arriving.

University of Northern Iowa begins its standard move-in on Wednesday, with about 4,300 expected to live on campus.

Managing the flow of traffic through congested parking lots packed with loaded vans, trucks and trailers can be tricky. At UI, for example, Housing & Dining officials decided to give families more space this year by expanding last year’s two-day process to three days.

They’ve also coordinated move-in waves, with UI students assigned one-hour windows in which to arrive at their residence hall — between 9 a.m. and noon or 2 and 5 p.m. on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Once families show up, they have 30 minutes to unload and move their car. They can then drive to a designated parking lot — outside Hancher Auditorium or across campus in the west-side Hawk Lot — and shuttle back to help the students get settled.

“It’s important to be patient,” a UI communication warns. “Student move-in will likely cause traffic delays.”

Many of this year’s on-campus residents — 1,049, to be exact — get the experience of living in Iowa’s newest dorm, Elizabeth Catlett Hall. University of Iowa students are assigned to housing based on their “living learning community” — social or academic interest groups freshmen must join their first year at Iowa.

Catlett Hall houses six of those 28 communities, including those centered on the arts, journalism, politics and honors programming. Although move-in at UI’s newer halls — including Petersen Residence Hall, which opened in 2015 — looks a lot like the process at Iowa’s other dorms, some marked differences stand out.

Consider tips and education disseminated to the residents: don’t plug a fridge into one of the energy-saving outlets, as they turn off automatically when the rooms aren’t occupied.

Luke Oehlerich, 18, of North English, landed a room on the ninth floor of the new Catlett Hall — although his first choice was Burge with some of his friends. But, while looking out its window over the picturesque Iowa River, he noted the room is nicer.

“It is a new hall, so there are pros and cons,” he said.

Iowa State kept its official move-in days to two — Tuesday and Wednesday. But plenty of students arrived early — about 41.5 percent of on-campus residents had checked in as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to ISU spokeswoman Annette Hacker. That percentage was expected to rise to near 70 percent by the end of Tuesday, Hacker said.

And returning students will continue to trickle in Thursday and through the weekend.

“We have seen plenty of U-Hauls, pickups, and trailers unloading here in Campustown for the past two weeks,” she said.

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