A gradually clearing grey sky and gusting winds greeted UND students, their friends and families for welcome weekend on Saturday, Aug. 21.

It was a turnaround from a year ago, when students were disallowed from gathering in large groups, and all students residing on campus had to stay in single-person dorm rooms. That isn’t the case this year, as students can have roommates and participate in welcoming activities that run throughout the weekend, which give this year’s move-in day a feeling similar to those before the coronavirus pandemic.

“We don't have those stipulations this year, so in that regard it's more back to a traditional move-in welcome weekend,” said David Dodds, UND spokesperson.

Dodds said even though the university “never stops,” he looks forward to the return of students, and the life they bring to campus.

“About this time every year we get this resurgence and vibrancy, with the new students that are coming here for the first time and the returning students,” Dodds said. “It just brings the campus alive and the community as well.”

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Cars lined up along UND side streets on Saturday, jockeying for spaces to unload students’ belongings, often into the waiting hands of upperclassmen, who were there to assist with the process.

Shortly after 9 a.m, California native and UND freshman Jessica Collins was moving into her dorm room, with the help of her mother, Teresa. Collins flew into town two weeks ago and stayed in an off-campus apartment, and her mother made the lengthy drive to North Dakota. It’s a position they will reverse, as Teresa Collins will fly out of Grand Forks on Sunday, and leave the car for her daughter.

While unloading boxes, Jessica Collins said she came to UND to study nursing, and be on the soccer team. She has a lot of hopes for her first semester as a college student.

“Just to make new friends, grow as a person (and) learn more about myself,” she said.

A block away, Natalie Prentice was moving into her dorm room, her parents Jack and Kris busy moving boxes from their car to the berm. Prentice, a freshman from Eagan, Minn., said she would study business and might follow some older friends in joining a sorority.

Some students arrived ahead of welcome weekend, and got settled into their accommodations. Alex Joppa, from Hopkins, Minn., said he’s been in town since last Monday. The commercial aviation student said he had already met his roommates. He joined UND’s marching band, which he said is a great way to make new friends.

“Everyone's been really nice and friendly,” Joppa said.

Welcome weekend offers a variety of meet-and-greet activities for students, and family members there to help them move in. There’s a Saturday afternoon question and answer session for parents, and everyone can attend a submarine sandwich feed at Wilkerson Dining Hall. At 7:30 p.m. members of the incoming class of 2025 will meet on the lawn of the Chester Fritz Library for a class photo.

Information about COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, made available through UND Student Health Services, have been included in welcome weekend information for students.