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Campus chaos as students return to the University of Montana

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Posted at 3:01 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 18:41:34-04

MISSOULA - Imagine telling the entire Town of Stevensville they need to move — all on the same day.

That's the equivalent number of people carrying boxes, bags and furniture at the University of Montana on Monday.

The biggest day on the UM campus might be the first Griz football game but we would argue that it's actually Move In Day.

Classes are still a week away but the real school year starts when the residence halls open for the invasion of students.

"It is chaos, but all hands on deck around here and it's an exciting day for us," noted University of Montana spokesman Dave Kuntz. "This really signals the kickoff of back-to-back to school time around here."

"But we have hundreds of university volunteers, all our athletic teams out here, volunteering, and by the end of today we're gonna move in about 2,000 students in our residence halls and it's it's it's really fun and unique is today's moving day, but starting tomorrow that orientation experience will start," Kuntz continued."

Freshmen were getting their keys, and warnings it would take up to $100 to replace a lost one. Details, upon details. And on a hot day, the realization your room is on the third floor.

Hannah Jablonski was among the group of returning carefree sophomores helping the underclassmen out. And we asked her what it was like to see the "rookies".

"Yeah, I know it's really bittersweet because, you know, this is just us like a year ago, but it's really cool and exciting to be able to help the new class of freshmen moving in," Jablonski observed. "And it's cool to give back because we had so many people help us out. So it's really exciting to be able to do the same for them and watch them start off their first year."

The "Welcome Crew" is eager to greet not just the new students, but seeing their friends from last year, greeting them with hugs and introductions to the freshmen. Ready to offer open hands to carry stuff.

A great suggestion when there aren't enough carts to go around. We asked Hannah what her best advice is for the new students.

"Yeah, just put yourself out there, try to make a lot of friends. You're gonna become really close with the people on your floor, you know, seeing them every day, and so just most likely, just put yourself out there."

Parents play a huge role, with both patience and helping with all the mini 'fridges, and of course nowadays, fancy gaming chairs.

"So it's fun to see the parents," Kuntz said. "So these people have been dreaming about coming here to the University of Montana for years and today is the beginning of that fruition. We also have a lot of parents and grandparents who are alums and it's fun to talk to them and reminisce about their moving days thirty, forty, fifty years ago."

And no matter the hard work, relief to find a place in Missoula's tight housing market.

"Yeah, every residence hall room is going to be used," Kuntz explained. "All of our off campus units are used. Our private partners are full. And so every unit is really precious. We provide a heck of a deal right now in terms of what the university charges versus the community and so we're excited to continue to offer that."

"What we don't want is one student not to continue their education because they can't find an affordable housing unit. So later this year will bring 300 additional units to the supply with the Knowles Hall renovation," Kuntz continued. "And hopefully, bring another 300 two years from now with a new residence hall. So we're going to try to stay one step ahead of demand so we can make sure that every student has a safe place to live."