STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - ‘Operation Move-In’ is underway for Georgia Southern students on Friday.
Bringing in a student body equal to the population of a small town certainly makes for one of the busiest days of the year. Also, thousands of those students are doing it for the first time. Each year, their arrival in August means big things for Statesboro.
More than 4,000 students are busy moving into on-campus housing. That’s in addition to 16,000 or so who live elsewhere in town. The students living on campus will be almost entirely first-year students, so they’re getting adjusted and getting settled.
This week also means the end of a summer drought for retailers, because more than half the students leave for the summer. The local chamber of commerce estimates the university’s students, faculty, and staff mean more than $800 million to Bulloch County’s economy.
“When half your customer base goes on vacation for three months, it’s an incredible shot in the arm when they return in the fall and go back to spending, shopping, and eating," said Bob Mikell, Chairman, Chamber of Commerce.
The university closed some if not all of two complexes for repairs, giving students fewer places to live on campus, and forcing some to find space around town. They announced they would be closing the complexes last spring, limiting on-campus housing to first-year students first as they waited to see enrollment numbers.
University leaders tell WTOC they’ve got a space for everyone who was promised one.
“Once we realized that we had accommodated all the first-year students who’d applied for housing, we opened up the process to some of those wait-listed students,” said Ryan Heins, University Housing.
University leaders say they want new students to live on campus to build the bonds that keep them engaged.
“Now, it’s, this is real. here you are,” said Dr. Kyle Marrero, GSU President. “The journey begins. We’re the partner along that way to obtain the transformational power of education.”
“Maybe my sophomore year I wouldn’t mind living off campus, but I understand why it’s important for the first year,” said Daniela Jimenez, GSU student. “You meet new people.”
Daneila says she and other students will appreciate having a place to live on campus.
"My roommates even asked if I could get a room change, and I was like, ‘no, sorry,’ she said.
Classes start Monday, but it will be a few weeks before they have enrollment numbers for the university across all three campuses.
Plenty of new students will head to Paulson Stadium Friday afternoon to rally with the marching band and other groups to celebrate the start of the semester.