Moving into Campus Housing, Thousands of Students Return to a Campus Ready for Them

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Move-in day activities, such as this 2021 action, will bring thousands of students and their families to campus on August 25-26. Hosting them will be the Hornet Nest Fest, with around 6,000 people expected on August 26. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

More than 3,200 Sacramento State students will move into on-campus housing on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 25 and 26, with suitcases, laptops and other belongings — and many with melancholy parents helping out.

But this year’s move-in days mark more than a rite of passage for back to school. It’s a return to the closest thing to normal college life since the COVID-19 pandemic pushed most people off campus more than two years ago.

And the numbers show it.

Sac State’s seven North Village residence halls will accommodate more than 2,100 students this fall semester.

Additionally, 1,100 students will live at Hornet Commons, an apartment complex on the south side of campus.

Another 200 students are on the waiting list for on-campus housing.

“We will have a population of 3,200 students for the 2022-23 academic year. This is the maximum capacity,” said Samuel N. Jones, executive director of University Housing Services.

“I think the students are really ready to be back in person and in class.”

Officials say 80% of Sac State students will attend at least one in-person class this fall, a level not reached since the pandemic imposed a high level of virtual instruction.

This year’s Hornet Nest Fest, a free event on Friday, August 26, to welcome back students and their families, is also shaping up to be the biggest yet with over 6,000 students planning to attend.

“Students will finally be back on campus, and we’ll all be together again,” said Sarah Billingsley, chief of staff to President Robert S. Nelsen. “The president is really looking forward to seeing everyone here and kicking off an incredible academic year.”

The University will be back in full swing just in time to celebrate its 75th anniversary with a year-long series of festivities, programs and events starting September 22.

For the first fall semester since the pandemic shut down Sac State in March 2020, students will return to live on campus and attend in-person classes in large numbers.

Last fall, students moved into on-campus housing, but only a limited number of in-person classes were offered, with that number increasing significantly in the spring of 2022.

The students are so eager to be back that they make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed out, Jones said.

For move-in days this fall, students have appointments to check in at the Harper Alumni Center before heading to their homes on campus. Enthusiasm for the move is building, Jones said.

As of August 19, only 154 students had not confirmed their appointment. “Generally it’s over 500 people right now,” he said.

Students are also required to check their COVID-19 vaccination status, and only eight had not done so as of August 19.

“It’s a very low number,” Jones said. “Students are really excited to be back on campus.”

Campus club volunteers will assist students and their families with move-in chores. Additionally, 80 administrators, faculty, and staff will assist with registration, testing, and parking.

“Our goal is to get everyone moving in so that all students and parents can go to Nest Fest,” Jones said.

Nest Fest features food stations with a variety of snacks and beverages, live DJs, games, exhibit tables, and the Sacramento State Marching Band.

Student-athletes will also be present for a meeting.

“It was really Sac State’s way of welcoming students who are new to campus, but that’s evolved over the past two years because of the pandemic,” Billingsley said. “Last year, we were not just welcoming first-time students, but all returning students to campus.”

“I think the students are really ready to be back in person and in class.” – Samuel N. Jones, Executive Director of University Housing Services

Last year’s Nest Fest was postponed to Homecoming in October due to the pandemic, and families weren’t invited.

This year, members of the president’s cabinet will occupy the tables and treat students and their family members like VIPs, Billingsley said.

“Before families leave and go home, they can celebrate with their students and know they are part of the Sac State family, too,” she said.

The Family Lounge, hosted by the Parents and Family Program, is also back in person this year from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday in the Riverview Hall conference room.

Families can connect with each other and leave notes for their students which will be delivered three weeks later, said Haley Myers Dillon, Director of Parents and Families.

Speakers will include Nelsen; Jones; Myers Dillon; Ed Mills, vice president of student affairs; and Chet Madison, University Police Chief.

Another Sac State back-to-school tradition, the President’s Fall Speech, will take place Aug. 25 at 9 a.m. in the University Union Ballroom.

About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita joined Sacramento State in 2022. A former reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent several years juggling freelance writing and being a mom. When she’s not driving her two daughters, she enjoys reading mystery novels, experimenting with recipes and Zumba.

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