Thursday was move-in day for hundreds of students who will live in the dormitories at Southern Oregon University this fall.
More than 50 volunteers from SOU's sports teams and Reserve Officers Training Corps helped their new colleagues schlepp luggage up countless flights of stairs as the mercury climbed well into the 80s.
"That was awesome "… they ran right up to the truck when we parked and started unloading stuff," said Josh Barnhart, 19, a freshman from Roseville, Calif., who plans to major in criminal justice, minor in outdoor leadership, and play goalie on SOU's lacrosse team.
With all the extra help, it took just two trips to haul Barnhart's five or six loads' worth of luggage, refrigerator, microwave, posters, books and other belongings into his fourth-floor room in the Greensprings Residential Complex.
"I really became interested in the school after I became interested in the area," Barnhart said. "I am from around Sacramento "… so it's a big change. I just like everything about it here."
Barnhart considered multiple colleges in the Midwest and California that expressed interest in his lacrosse talent, said his dad, Sonny Mannan.
"We said no to scholarship money to make this happen," Mannan said. "That's what you've got to do; he loves the outdoors, loves to snowboard. You can't be somewhere flat if you like to do that sort of thing "… his happiness is what's important."
About 1,000 students are expected to move into the Greensprings, Cascade Residential Complex, Madrone Apartments and Susanne Home, bringing capacity to about 95 percent, said housing director Tim Robitz.
About 300 athletes and participants in a civil engagement program have been in the halls for a few weeks, Robitz said. About 500 students moved in Thursday, and another 200 will trickle in throughout the weekend, he said.
"We have more returners this year "… I don't think we have that large of an incoming class," Robitz said.
The university isn't expecting its enrollment to climb any higher than last fall term's 6,744 students, said Jim Beaver, director of Interactive Marketing and Media Relations at SOU, but enrollment figures won't be available for about a month.
Last year, more transfer students from Rogue Community College, an influx of students from California and a more than 25 percent increase in Hispanic student enrollment were primary contributors to a record-breaking term. If fall enrollment does not increase this academic year, it will mark the end of a five-year population swell at the institution.
There is still a steady flow of California students choosing SOU, Beaver said, but the number of registered transfer students coming from community colleges is down.
Mannan, who plans to stay in the Rogue Valley and "have a look around" this weekend, said he wants to give his son plenty of space to settle in and meet his new neighbors.
Freshman Jonathan Dotson of Coquille had all of his stuff packed away into his new room by 10:30 a.m. The only thing missing, he said, was food.
"We're heading to the grocery store right now," Dotson said, alongside mom Andrea Murphy and grandmother Jackie Dotson.
Dotson said he plans to major in biology.
"I'm not worried about him. ... He's the responsible one," Murphy said. "No tears yet, we're having fun "… but we haven't said goodbye."
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.