Thousands of UF students move in on rainy day


Zack Wilkie, 19, a sophomore at the University of Florida and GatorAide volunteer, assists incoming freshman Erin Dunne, 18, and her mother Allison, of Orlando, Fla., with moving her belongings into Jennings West residence hall on the UF campus Wednesday, August 17, 2011.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 12:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 12:18 p.m.

Moving into campus housing in the pouring rain is getting to be a habit at the University of Florida, but it doesn't seem to dampen the spirits of those students and their parents helping them this week.

"My mother always told me rain was a blessing," said Trevor "Tony" Anthony, who was helping his son, Moza, 18, move into Beaty Towers on Friday morning.

"It's relatively exciting, but I'm nervous about the change," said Moza, a Port Charlotte resident who said he wants to study telecommunications. "I am ready to start in a new environment. I'm looking forward to making new friends."

Thousands of students returning to Gainesville faced a soggy Friday, the first day of the five-day Fall Check-in ritual that ties up traffic on the east side of campus and adjacent neighborhood streets.

Parking lots overflowed with parents unloading cars full of mini-fridges and floor lamps, duffel bags and bedding, books and boots.

Parents and students pushing carts and dollies bearing mini-fridges and boxes of clothing stood in line for jammed freight elevators.

An estimated 7,600 students are moving into the undergraduate dorms, 70-75 percent of whom are new to UF, said Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs. As many as 60 percent of those students move in on the first day, she said.

"Overall, it's going about as smoothly as is possible," Blansett said.

Last year, UF launched an online check-in appointment program to eliminate the chaos and gridlock of previous years, when students and parents came all at once.

Up to 85 students at a time are assigned a two-hour slot to drive up, park and unload their belongings, Blansett said. They are given about 30 minutes to unload before taking their vehicles back to a parking area behind Hume Hall, where they can get a shuttle back to their dorms, Blansett said.

"We want everyone to have a positive check-in experience," Blansett said. "Most people are being sensitive that other people are needing to do the same thing they're doing."

About 270 Gator Aide volunteers were on hand to help the new students moving into Beaty, Broward, Jennings and Rawlings halls. Traffic was backed up at Jennings by mid-morning Friday, but plenty of parking was available at the Beaty lot.

Housing folks had not found a way to solve the lines at the freight elevators, but the elevator company that has the maintenance contract for UF's elevators was on call all day in case of breakdowns, Blansett said.

Keith Waskom of Oviedo, wearing a Florida T-shirt and waiting in the elevator line of Jennings West with a mini-fridge to take up to his daughter Kailey's room on the second floor, said he was amazed by the organization.

"It's hard to accommodate thousands of people moving in at once," Waskom said. "It's a little chaotic, but everybody seems to be agreeable."

Waskom wondered aloud how agreeable everyone would be once it started to rain again.

Kailey Waskom, an incoming freshman, said she was excited to be on campus. "It's definitely easy moving in," she said, the only real hardship being lugging her belongings in the sticky heat.

Around 60 percent of the students moving in on the first day are female, Blansett said, because the sororities held their mandatory recruitment on Friday.

Christiana Payne said she came up for sorority rush, but had no idea which sorority she wanted to join yet. "I'm just going in with an open mind," said the freshman from Melbourne. "I'm excited about making a bunch of new friends and having new experiences and getting involved as soon as I get here."

Her father, Stan Payne, said he had a busy 24 hours, moving his daughter and son here to Gainesville, and another son to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to attend law school.

"You've just gotta laugh. Everyone is in the same boat," he said after chatting with a man in a pickup truck driving around the parking lot looking for a space. "People start giving each other advice about how fast to creep along to find a space."

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