Even Under the Face Masks, There Were Excited Smiles at Rutgers' Move-In Day

By Chuck O'Donnell | TapIntoNewBrunswick, August 24, 2021

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Alyssa Ehling had snacks, school supplies, bedding and everything else a first-year student could possibly need, all stuffed into a red cart out in front of Rutgers’ Honors College.

And, perhaps most importantly, she brought a box of high-grade face masks.

“I’m just excited,” said the first-year student from North Plainfield. “I was worried we would have to be remote for the whole year.”

And after a brief pause, Ehling began pushing the cart toward her new dorm room and the next chapter of her life.

The time-honored tradition known as Move-In Day at Rutgers was back after the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation a year ago.

After a year in which the university held the overwhelming majority of its classes via remote technology, Rutgers–New Brunswick will be welcoming 7,200 first-year students and 2,400 transfer students, an increase of 9% from 2020.

The campus will have a 20% increase in first-year students from underrepresented minority groups (1,660 in 2021, up from 1,308 in 2020). That includes a 29% increase in Black students (752 in 2021, up from 536 in 2020) and a 14% increase in Latinx students (879 in 2021, up from 742 in 2020).

Move-In Day 2021, however, looked a little different from previous years.

The new students and their parents popped out of the cars parked by the curb sporting face masks.

And remember those ubiquitous teams of overzealous seniors who jump in pit crew-style to assist with the unpacking of cars? They were shelved this year because of COVID-19.

COVID conscious Rutgers even gave each student a strict arrival time window Tuesday morning.

And although this wasn’t a typical Move-In Day, you could tell there were smiling faces brimming with excitement – even under those masks.

“I’m very excited to see this,” Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway said. “This is fantastic. Without people, we’re just buildings and I think the pandemic emphasized that. Yes, we have beautiful buildings. Yes, we have a beautiful campus. It’s like how a house doesn’t make a home.”

The students, whom Conway called “the heart of the campus,” were eager to hang up posters, stock fridges and make their new dorms feel like home.

Several of the students told TAPinto New Brunswick they were attracted to the school not only because of its academic reputation or its abundance of social life opportunities but because of its stance on COVID-19 vaccination.

FULL SOURCE: TapIntoNewBrunswick | Even Under the Face Masks, There Were Excited Smiles at Rutgers' Move-In Day