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Smooth sailing as Pirate fleet unloads student cargo

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Students carry their things up to their dorms at ECU on August 15, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Broeker family of Lexington had a well-planned itinerary Wednesday to get both of their daughters, Sydney and Courtney, settled into their residences in preparation for East Carolina University’s fall semester, which begins Monday.

“Our plan is to get Sydney, our freshman, moved into White Hall this morning, decorate her room, go enjoy lunch, then head over to Courtney’s apartment off campus,” Colleen Broeker said. “It’s a little different this year because they’re building the new student center and there isn’t as much parking right now. It pays to be early.”

The Broekers joined thousands of other families on Move-in Day during what appeared to be a smooth, if not stress-free, campus operation.

With limited space in her dorm room, the key to a comfortable experience was to bring plenty of storage devices, said Sydney, who will major in environmental health — beginning with her own environment. 

“I brought my bedding with me so I could feel like I’m at home here,” she said. “I got a lot of help and advice from my sister (now a senior) who lived in a dorm room when she was a freshman. I also made sure I was the first one to get dorm keys; I know how much chaos there can be.”

Larry Broeker said he was not even pretending to be in charge this day, but made sure his daughter was the first student in line for her dorm keys before hustling everyone over to the parking lot next to White Hall, where he grabbed a cart and loaded it up with his daughter’s belongings.

“I just hope we can get in and out,” he said.

ECU officials staged a media briefing outside Cotten Hall, where John Fletcher, associate provost for enrollment services talked about the 5,400 students — including about 4,200 freshmen — who were moving into residences across the campus. About 1,700 transfer students from throughout the state also will make their first appearance at ECU, most from Pitt Community College. The numbers are preliminary until Census Day, about two weeks into the semester, ECU officials said.

“Student enrollment numbers are a little smaller than last year’s,” Fletcher said. “We’re realizing there’s a lot of competition for freshmen enrollment  across North Carolina and the U.S., so we’re delighted to have the number we have this fall. We’re excited about the new “Pirate Promise” collaboration we have with 16 community colleges across the state. 

Fletcher said ECU faces a challenge created by the combination of increased graduation rates and decreased enrollment. The university has stepped up efforts to encourage students to graduate in four years to create space to increase enrollment.

Some noteworthy campus updates this academic year include the new main campus student center, scheduled to open in January, and newly renovated bathrooms at Cotten Residence Hall. Greene Residence Hall is continuing with renovations and will not house students this academic year, officials said.

Bill McCartney, associate vice chancellor of campus living, walked the campus greeting families, helping to solve parking issues and generally helping to get students comfortably settled into their Pirate lives. He said the explosion of off-campus housing has little effect on campus housing decisions

“Even though that market has been exploding — perhaps too much so — we remain full and we have a demand we’re able to meet,” McCartney said. 

The closure of Green Hall for renovation actually has created a demand for campus freshman housing, McCartney said. There are 101 returning students and 79 transfer students on the university’s waitlist for on-campus housing, an ECU official said.

Lt. Chris Sutton, ECU Police Department public information officer, said his department will focus on familiarizing students with safety programs and available resources to keep themselves protected on what is a large and open public campus.

Sutton said pedestrian safety around the campus, including along 10th Street, where several fatal accidents have occurred in recent years, is a high priority for the department as it collaborates with its partner agencies and Greenville government to improve conditions as the construction boom continues.

“When we get the new student center opened later this fall, there will be some medians put in that should help improve crossing conditions,” he said. “It should cut down on some of the turn lanes, reducing lanes from five down to four. And we are trying to get some dedicated crosswalks put in, which we hope students will gravitate to.”

Sutton said the police department also has many programs in place to educate students about personal safety.

“We always want our (female) students to participate in our Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program so they can prepare and know what to do in a situation where they are confronted with that type of threat,” Sutton said. “We also want students to know about the consequences and dangers of alcohol and drugs on the campus... and be aware of the peer pressures that come with more freedom and how that can affect judgment.”

ECU will conduct a full test of its alert system, including text messages and outdoor speakers, at 2 p.m. on Friday, a news release said. The university will conduct limited tests of select functions of the ECU Alert emergency notification system at noon today.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.