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Archive for Monday, August 19, 2002

KU rolls out welcome mat for new and returning students

August 19, 2002

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Kansas University's residence halls returned to life Sunday as thousands of students, assisted by friends and family members, braved heat, humidity and traffic jams to move into their new homes.

"I'm tired," Arthur Jones said, as he tossed some of his belongings on the top bunk in his room on the seventh floor of Templin Residence Hall.

Jones, a freshman from Dallas, began his moving day before 6 a.m. when he loaded up his car and, along with his mother, Mary Lou Reece, headed out on the long drive to Lawrence.

Jones estimated it would take him about two hours to get things sorted and stashed away. His mother looked doubtful, then shrugged.

"They're guys," she said.

Jones also met his roommate face-to-face for the first time. Jones and Jeremy Rooney, a freshman from Olathe, had only exchanged e-mails prior to Sunday. Rooney made sure he arrived early to get his moving chore out of the way before it got too crowded.

"I helped my sister move into McCollum (Residence Hall) last year," Rooney said. "It was pretty crazy."

Things haven't changed much. By midafternoon, lines to elevators stretched through McCollum's lobby to the front doors.

Ralph Zimmerman, Bettendorf, Iowa, sat on a couch in the lobby and waited for his son, freshman Michael Zimmerman, to check into his room.

"We've got a Suburban filled with stuff  a computer, TV, refrigerator  everything they need to stay, uh, focused," Ralph Zimmerman said with a smile.

Ralph Zimmerman had no idea how long it might take to unload. "I had to park quite a ways away. If we have to haul the stuff in from there, it could take awhile."

Stephanie Smith, Shawnee senior, was working behind the front desk at McCollum.

"The main questions have been, 'Where do I check in?' and 'Where's the bathroom?'" Smith said.

Outside Oliver Hall, emotions were running high for parents Donna Reed, Leavenworth, and Jay Westerbeck, Olathe. They were helping their daughter, Nicole Westerbeck, move away from home for the first time.

"She looked around her room this morning and said, 'This isn't going to be my room anymore,'" Reed said of her daughter.

"We're not going to rent it out  not yet," Westerbeck said with a laugh.

As for Nicole Westerbeck, she had mixed emotions.

"It's a little scary," she said. "It's also kind of fun. I think it's going to be all right. It's going to be a totally different lifestyle."

Nearby, Amy Evans, Chicago freshman, also was leaving home for the first time.

"I'm just taking it minute by minute," she said, as she and her mother, Chris Evans, looked over the cargo to be unloaded.

The opening of the residence halls was the final piece to the annual influx of KU students that began earlier in the week at apartment complexes, fraternities and sororities.

Students also flocked to discount stores throughout Lawrence to stock up on necessities they either forgot or didn't have room in their vehicles to bring. One of them was Matt Siemer, a Bushton sophomore, who was buying groceries and a toaster at Target, 3201 Iowa.

"I moved in a couple of days ago, but I haven't really done much about anything until now," Siemer said.

Sunday night provided time to relax as students packed into the Kansas Union for this year's Union Fest. KU officials expected about 3,500 to show up. Free food and prizes were available. This year's Union Fest had a superhero theme and included the showing of the 1978 "Superman" movie.

Kenny Simmons, a freshman from Columbus, Ohio, was among students who were moving shoulder-to-shoulder along tables lined with posters for sale. Simmons picked up a poster for the 1930s movie "Metropolis."

"I'm a film major, and I always liked the poster," he said.

But Simmons had a simple motive for attending Union Fest.

"I'm just here to hopefully meet some new people," he said.

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