MTU students move in
HOUGHTON — The drive from Manistique to Houghton is less than 200 miles, but it was an important, if bittersweet one, for Heather Ellis.
“It feels like an accomplishment, and slightly terrifying seeing your child go off on their own,” said Ellis, whose son, Joe Erbetta, is a first-year chemistry student at Michigan Technological University. “I know he’ll make it.”
Erbetta and about 1,500 other students moved into the Michigan Technological University dorms Friday and Saturday.
The move-in was lengthened from one day to two last year as an anti-COVID measure to reduce clustering. Another holdover from last year are the staggered move-in times.
“It’s one of those things where COVID forced us to do it, and it works so well for everybody,” said Alan Turnquist, orientation programs coordinator at Michigan Tech. “…Knowing that there’s construction around here made it really easy to make that decision, just to moderate the traffic flow, to make this experience no lines, no waiting.”
More than 100 volunteers were on hand at any time, Turnquist said.
“The energy the students bring back is really great, and it’s also really cool for me to see how this brings people from all across campus to work together,” he said.
Erbetta’s family and new roommate were helping out with the move, as was a student volunteer who swooped in to help with the refrigerator — “my fifth or sixth one today,” he said. For Erbetta, the smaller college setting is a plus.
“It’s a really good school,” he said. “It has all the programs of some of the bigger colleges without having so much competition for positions and the teacher’s attention. That, and being closer to home.”
Erbetta is excited for a change.
“I’m nervous, but I’m trying something new,” he said.
COVID-19 restrictions, though lighter than at the same time last year, were still present. Masks and hand sanitizer were present at entryways, and the university is requiring masks indoors to combat the Delta variant.
Still, students were excited to have more opportunities than they might have had last year.
“I’m excited to be in person and in a classroom and not just on a computer sitting there,” she said.
Elliot, a first-year mechanical engineering major, came from Rockford, Illinois with her parents. She’d found out about Tech from another Rockford native five years ahead of her who’d become a Husky.
“It’s a really good engineering school — the best within driving distance of us, pretty much — that’s still affordable,” she said.
With move-in complete, students will be getting acclimated to their new surroundings. Erbetta is planning on joining the Health Occupations Students of America club at Tech. Elliot is looking forward to exploring the outdoors.
“I feel like there’s a lot of things here that you wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else,” she said.