A first-year move in like no other

Weeks after they were initially scheduled to arrive, students brand new to the University of Minnesota wrapped up moving into their on-campus housing Friday.

John+Fogarty%2C+first-year+student+from+Appleton%2C+Wisconsin%2C+moves+his+belongings+into+the+carts+with+his+parents+while+moving+in+to+a+University+residential+hall+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+18.

Nur B. Adam

John Fogarty, first-year student from Appleton, Wisconsin, moves his belongings into the carts with his parents while moving in to a University residential hall on Friday, Sept. 18.

Samantha Woodward, City Reporter

After a delayed move in for incoming first-years, students are finally returning to on-campus housing.

Friday morning, the common area of Superblock just saw a trickle of carts — lacking the usual chaos of large throngs of students moving in. The routine is different for 2020’s first-years: social distancing and face masks are visible as the new students carry boxes of food back to their dorms.

Students and their limited number of movers, often parents or family, have been arriving since Tuesday. All residents have been required to schedule a 60-minute move-in session and are limited to no more than two people to assist in the yearly tradition, per an email sent out to first-years from the University’s Housing and Residential Life (HRL).

Normally, first-years would start moving into dorms at the end of August to early September. However, due to the coronavirus, the University decided last month to push back the move in and delay the in-person component of classes by “at least” two weeks, according to a universitywide email sent by President Joan Gabel.

First-year Ella Kooyer, a North Dakota-native planning a double major in dance and English, moved into Centennial Hall Tuesday.

“There was just less going on in general … there’s no one giving flyers or introducing themselves or like anything you would see in an American movie. It was definitely more subdued than what I’d expect, but it was COVID,” Kooyer said.

The University’s Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan sets rules for incoming first-years, and their move-in marks the beginning of step one of the four-step blueprint.

During phase one of the plan, students are expected to spend most of their time in their assigned residence hall and are restricted from being in other students’ rooms for 10 days. After two weeks and the completion of the first phase, the guidelines loosen and allow for more interaction between the students.

John Fogarty, first-year student from Appleton, Wisconsin, poses in front of his room at a University residential hall after moving the second round of carts full of his belongings on Friday, Sept. 18. (Nur B. Adam)

Amid fears of contracting COVID-19 and being away from home, students are still faced with the uncertainty of establishing friendships and succeeding in their classes.

This is especially hard for students like Robert Frank, a first-year bachelor of fine arts member, whose classes have all moved online. He hopes to make friends with the people on his floor and in his current classes.

“I’m gonna be working with these people for four years,” Frank said.

Frank was originally assigned a roommate. But, because the prospective roommate’s whole course load is online, they decided against moving in. Now Frank has the room to himself.

Roommates TJ Ayumba and Adam Hague moved into Pioneer Hall Thursday and agreed that “everyone’s super eager to talk,” so it’s difficult to want to follow the rules of no guests in dorms. The two face difficulties being first-years during this time alongside constant reminders that the pandemic is ongoing.

“I’m trying to be mindful of it, but I’m not scared of it … [I’m] wearing my mask and distancing when I can,” Hague said.

Ayumba, on the other hand, had to be more cautious concerning the possible risks while he was living at home. He said he feels a bit more comfortable on campus.

“More when I was at home I had other people to worry about … of like at-risk people like my grandparents, but now here I’m living with a roommate,” Ayumba said. “You feel a little bit more comfortable going out.”

Although Kooyer, the dance and English double-major, wishes that her first year of college would be what she had seen in the movies, she says her unique experience has brought her and her hallmates closer together.

“We’ve had to rely on each other more. I’ve heard people in the hallway be like, ‘I need a mask, can someone walk to Walgreens with me?’” Kooyer said. “It’s hard because we kind of expected college to do everything for us in terms of making friends, and the problem is — it’s no one’s fault.”

For some students, housing contracts end at the beginning of Thanksgiving break. Kooyer, who moved in three days ago and is in the second week of her classes, said that it has already gone by so fast.

“I’m three days in, and I’m already an eighth of the way done with the semester,” she said.