Students move furniture during UWRF's move in day on Sept. 2, 2023

These UW-River Falls students were among about 100 Falcon Move Crew members who unloaded fellow students’ belongings during move-in day on campus Saturday. More than 2,000 students moved into residence halls over the weekend. UWRF photo.  

UW-River Falls welcomes students for start of school year 

Move in, Academic Day mark the beginning of another semester 

Sept. 5, 2023 - Hundreds of University of Wisconsin-River Falls first-year students kicked off their academic careers at the university on Tuesday during an event that was both celebratory and informative. 

Students gathered at the Melvin Wall Amphitheatre on campus for Academic Day, an event intended to commemorate the beginning of their college careers and help connect them to their academic programs and faculty. After meeting with professors and fellow classmates, they then attended an event intended to familiarize them with campus clubs and organizations. Wednesday is the first day of classes for fall semester. 

During the gathering at the amphitheatre, Chancellor Maria Gallo told students that their time at UWRF will be life changing in multiple ways. She urged students to help each other feel accepted on campus and to be themselves. 

“True belonging demands that you be who you are, presenting as your authentic self and being valued as that unique individual. That’s being a Falcon,” Gallo said.

While beginning college is an exciting time, it also presents challenges, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David Travis said. Getting to know classmates and professors will help find success, he told students. 

“There will be challenges. When that happens, find a way to get some help. That will be critical to you finding ways to be successful,” Travis said, noting programs through which students can find assistance. 

Move-in weekend on campus offered students opportunities to connect with others. About 100 were part of Falcon Move Crew, a volunteer moving crew that unloaded students’ clothing and other items and helped them move into their residence hall homes during an unusually warm day in which the temperature approached 100 degrees. A total of 2,135 students will live in 10 UWRF residence halls this semester.

Donning a tie-dye red-and-white moving crew T-shirt, Lauryn Hendzel joined others Saturday in hauling one item after another from a vehicle and piling it on the curb in front of Parker Hall. Moments later, the first-year student from Oconto majoring in the pre-veterinary program helped load some of those items into a container on wheels that parents wheeled into the residence hall. 

“I decided to do this because I really want to meet people right off the bat,” Hendzel said between helping unload vehicles. “It is hot out here, but it feels good to do this, to help other people out.”

As he lugged other students’ items, Isaac Paulson, a junior from Holmen double majoring in agricultural studies and agricultural business, recalled when he first arrived at UWRF, thoughts that prompted him to help on move-in day. 

“I know that coming to campus at first and moving in can be a struggle,” Paulson said. “I just want to do my part to help make it easier for others.”

Despite the oppressive heat, move-in day went smoothly, said Liz Deninger, associate director of residence life. That was due not only to move-in helpers but because pre-planned drop-off times prevented too many students arriving at once and a subsequent unloading backlog, she said. 

Move-in crew members were advised to take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Campus buildings with available air conditioning, such as the University Center, Rodli Hall and the Falcon Center, were open to students as places to escape the heat. 

“We’re doing what we can to try to keep our students cool and make sure they are safe,” Deninger said. 

When first-year student Braelyn Beiler arrived on campus to move into her residence hall room, Beiler and her family were pleasantly surprised to be approached by UWRF women’s basketball team members, who quickly hauled Beiler’s belongings to her dorm room. 

“I didn’t expect that at all,” said Beiler, a first-year student from Weston majoring in exercise sports science and who is a basketball team member. “It feels really good to see that group here and know that I have support here already.”

Beiler’s father, Jeremy, said he appreciated the help carrying his daughter’s belongings to her new college home. Even more important, he said, is the sense of welcome. 

“It can be tough to send your kid away to college,” he said. “But with the support we’ve felt here already, I feel really good about having my daughter here.”

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