By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Steven Koehn was having a little trouble closing the hatch on his Z/28 Camaro.
The sports car definitely wasn’t manufactured with moving in mind.
“I think I can do it,” Koehn said Wednesday afternoon while cramming clothes, speakers, a vinyl record collection and everything else from his dorm room into the vehicle parked outside Randall Hall.
The freshman music education major was almost ready to hit the road, en route to his hometown of North Platte for the summer.
It’s a bittersweet moment for Koehn and students across the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus. While they’re relieved to close the books on the academic year and eager to start the three-month break, there’s also the realization that they’ll be away from their college pals until classes resume next fall.
“You’ll see a lot of tears,” said George Holman, associate dean of student affairs at UNK.
Holman called move-out time “an emotional process,” especially for freshmen who made new connections during their first year here.
“It really shows what kind of community there is on campus,” he said. “It shows we’re doing something here at UNK that people feel like they’re a part of.”
Jayde McDowell, a freshman from Ravenna, also had mixed feelings Wednesday as she filled her parents’ Suburban with her college belongings.
“I’m excited to get out of the dorms and live with my friends next year, but it is sad that I’m not going to see them all summer,” said McDowell, who will spend her break helping out at the grocery store her family owns.
The psychology major plans to move into a duplex close to campus next semester, but she’s not knocking her time in Randall Hall.
“It’s a good experience,” McDowell said. “I think everyone should live in the dorms their first year, because that’s where I met all of my friends.”
About 1,500 students live in the nine residence halls on the UNK campus, and nearly all of them are moving out this week.
Holman refers to it as “organized chaos.”
“It goes pretty fast,” he said. “The parking lot will be full until about Wednesday afternoon, then all of the sudden you’ll have an empty parking lot.”
The process is pretty straightforward. Students pack up their stuff, clean their rooms, then have a resident assistant sign off to complete the checkout.
Holman said the Division of Student Affairs and Office of Residence Life start communicating with students in January or February so they can plan ahead, something that’s particularly important for international and out-of-state students who must book flights home.
The deadline to move out is 5 p.m. Friday, although some students stick around until Saturday and others stay all summer.
Ashley Shaffer was overseeing things in Men’s Hall, where she’s been a resident assistant for two years.
“It’s very busy, very hectic,” she said Wednesday as students lugged televisions and carts loaded with cardboard boxes and plastic containers from the dorm.
Shaffer, a 7-12 English education major, doesn’t have to worry about hauling her stuff out. She’ll stay in Men’s Hall while assisting with events on campus this summer.
The Plainview native enjoys dorm life.
“I love the community,” she said. “Men’s Hall is a very friendly and close-knit community.”
About 40 percent of the UNK students living on campus will return to the dorms next semester, according to Holman, who called that figure “pretty good” for a school of this size.
After spending his summer working at Cody Go Karts in North Platte and a family trip to Disney World, Koehn will return to Randall Hall for a second year in the dorm.
He likes that it’s close to the Fine Arts Building, where many of his classes are, and near the center of campus.
“You don’t have to commute every day,” Koehn said.
UNK partnership benefits area homeless shelters
By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – When it’s time to move out of the residence hall, some things don’t make the trip off campus.
Students discover there are items they don’t use and others they want to replace. For international students, it can be easier, and cheaper, to leave large items here rather than ship them overseas.
Instead of tossing this stuff in the trash, the University of Nebraska at Kearney gives students an easy way to donate to area residents in need.
The university has partnered with Crossroads Center, which operates homeless shelters in Kearney and Hastings, the past two years to place donation trailers on campus during move-out time.
Donated items are either sold at thrift stores that support the shelters or given to people when they move out to help furnish a residence.
“It’s a nice option for students,” said UNK Associate Dean of Student Affairs George Holman, who considers the partnership a win-win since the donations help others while keeping additional items from heading to the landfill.
Crossroads Center, located at 1404 E. 39th St. in Kearney, drops off and picks up the donation trailers.
“We get all sorts of stuff,” said Dalton Carter, assistant program manager for Crossroads Center.
Last year, UNK students donated enough items – furniture, bedding and anything else worth saving – to fill two box trucks and three trailers.
“It definitely helps,” Carter said, adding that the influx of items bolsters the thrift stores’ inventory heading into summer.
The partnership with UNK also helps get the word out about Crossroads Center and its mission, he said.
Most of Crossroads Center’s funding comes from individual donations, churches, fundraisers, private grants and area businesses. More than 700 people stayed at the two shelters last year and nearly 149,000 meals were served.
UNK has also partnered with Goodwill Industries to collect donations for that nonprofit.