EMU students begin moving into dorms with rise in first-year enrollees

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

Ypsilanti — Families and students came Thursday with cars packed with cases of water, pillows, comforters and school supplies ready to take on the semester ahead at Eastern Michigan University. 

Alexis Knowles of Detroit pushes a cart full of belongings, including a life size cutout of her sister Asia, into Putnam Hall during Eastern Michigan University's move in day in Ypsilanti, Thursday, August 26, 2021.

Eastern Michigan University has enrolled more than 2,250 first-year students to campus this fall, a 20% increase from fall 2020,  when 1,867 students enrolled. It is also a 7% hike from first-year enrollment of 2,106 in 2019 before the pandemic, according to the university.

The influx is boosting the number of students living on campus. More than 2,750 students have made a deposit for housing this fall, up 35% from 2,031 students who lived in student housing last fall.

For new students, it was a moment to relish.

"I am looking forward to getting independence from my family," said Caroline Merrel, 18, of Dexter.

On Tuesday, EMU officials said they would require students on campus who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to undergo weekly testing.

Jaxon McDaniel, Flint, keeps guard over his brother Oliver's stuff as he waits for him to return for another load of stuff to haul up to his Hoyt Hall dorm room where Oliver will live his freshman year at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. Thursday, August 26, 2021 was move in day for several students at EMU.

First-year students began moving into campus housing Thursday. Other students are set to begin moving in Friday through Sunday. The staggered move-in is a COVID-19 safety precaution. 

Erin Gardner, right, Albion, takes a picture of her daughter Nejyah Gardner, left, an incoming Eastern Michigan University freshman from Albion, gets a hand moving into her Pittman Hall dorm from her mom and dad (Thomas and Erin) during her move in day, Thursday, August 26, 2021, in Ypsilanti.

As a result of the enrollment increase, 65% of classes are being held in person; 35% of classes are being held virtually.

Students like Aniyah Ranold, 17, of Detroit like the flexibility of choosing what classes to take in person or virtually. 

"Considering one of my classes is virtual, I am expecting a normal and exciting school year," Ranold said.