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Students return to UWF campus for a new year

Jennie McKeon
WUWF Public Media
Students move in to Martin Hall on UWF campus, Friday, Aug. 19.

The quiet on the UWF campus is coming to an end with school starting Monday, Aug. 22.

And on Friday, the seven residence halls were bustling with students moving in and getting settled for the semester ahead.

More than two years into the pandemic, University of West Florida President Martha Saunders said this school year is pretty much back to normal with events and crowds of people.

“I think people have been looking around and saying ‘gee, it feels like it used to feel,’” she said. “We’re packed even compared to last year. Housing is full with waiting lists. We did a lot of planning last year and we have a lot of doing this year.”

While much of campus life will feel similar, there is one big change: football games. Home games will be played at the Pen Air Field with the first slated for Saturday, Sept. 3.

“We had a test run last year and managed the traffic fine, (the) and parking fine,” said Saunders. Everywhere I looked, people were having a good time.”

Jennie McKeon
WUWF Public Media
Gregory Tomso, Vice President of Academic Engagement and Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, and UWF President Martha Saunders take a photo with students during move-in day.

Whether they live on campus or commute, Saunders said she hopes every student starts their school year with a “purpose and a plan.”

“I think every student is going to be successful if they come in here with a plan and say ‘I want this education and I want it to do this for me,’” she added.

College is also a time to meet new people. This month, the campus is hosting several welcome events to try and engage students.

“They’re about to meet people from lots different places from a lot of different backgrounds, so I would advise them to sit down and listen,” said Saunders.

For the approximately 1,500 students living on campus, there are resources based at all resident halls. Resident assistants just finished up their two-and-a-half week training ahead of move-in day.

“They’re learning how to best support our students and campus resources,” said Leigh Prouty, director of Housing and Residence Life. “So, when students come to them they have the information to provide them and connect them.”

At the residence halls, there was plenty of hands on deck to help the incoming students haul their belongings to their dorms. Railey Conner said it’s nice to be back, in person, welcoming students. It reminds her of her first year.

“I remember not carrying a single thing into my dorm and people swarming in to help,” she said. “And being super excited to have that independence to be away from being at home and starting that new chapter in my life.”

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.