Thousands of parents and students converged on campus for Welcome Week, a time to explore the wooded campus, meet fellow students and academic advisors, and prepare for Thursday – the first day of classes.
Some students brought very little, and some brought a lot. Students and their parents rolled up in Durangos, Range Rovers, Toyota Siennas, and in one case, a full-on moving truck, which raised a few eyebrows.
They brought stuffed comforters, mattress pads, printers, huge duffels, shelving, lamps, and even a 40-pack box of chicken-flavored instant ramen.
There were plenty of 12-cup coffee makers, animal-shaped Pillow Pets, and 4.5-cubic-foot fridges. One College Ten student expressed her modern-art impulses by bringing a sculpture made out of tongue depressors.
But move-in week was marked by the same environmental consciousness that has been spreading across the campus for decades. Rosa Plaza, director of orientation for UCSC, noted that all colleges had large recyclables collection areas posted in front of the dorms.
While there have been “green” move-ins in years past, Plaza said this one was unusually comprehensive.
“There is definitely a push to be more organized and inform families not to bring so much because that way they won’t have to throw it away,” Plaza continued.
Many students kept careful tabs on their “to bring” list this year, scaling it back to the essentials. One reason was space; students in doubles and triples knew they couldn’t bring everything they wanted.
This was the case with Steven Esser, 18, who thought about bringing “a bigger TV” but scratched the idea at the last minute.
His mother, Gerriann Esser, said it wouldn’t have made any sense. “I talked him out of it because there was no spot for it in the room,” she said. "Although I guess he could have mounted it on one of the walls."
Aside from fitting his belongings into his new living arrangements, Esser went through an age-old college ritual last week: meeting his roommate for the first time. But the age of social networking has taken some of the drama away from that first big meeting. Alexander Yee, 18, one of Esser's two suite mates, said the three of them started exchanging messages on Facebook two months ago.
As usual, each college celebrated Welcome Week in its own unique way. At Colleges Nine and Ten, the trained volunteer greeters blasted “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s, danced, and called out “Welcome to college” every time a vehicle rolled up.
It looked like pure spontaneity but it was well-rehearsed and planned. One of the greeters, Christian Reyes, said he prepared two weeks. The purpose was to get the students and families excited about the university while feeling instantly at home, he said.
"It started off foggy and folks were tired," Reyes said.
"But we brought the energy," interjected another greeter, Erin Rooney. "We brought the love. They laughed, and sometimes they looked kind of stunned, but in a good way."
While preparing to move in, students dealt with a range of emotions, while saying goodbye – for now – to their families. Darion Davis, 17, of Los Angeles, who plans to study human biology at UCSC, confessed that his mother was “a little scared” to see him moving away. "I told her, I’ll be back visiting in two months."
Davis was waiting next to a pile of his belongings. He was about to receive some move-in help from the small army of volunteers.
One of those helping with the big move-in push was UCSC Executive Vice Chancellor and Campus Provost Alison Galloway, who most people did not recognize. "I’m doing the T-shirt, tennis shoes and jeans thing,” she said. “I’m wearing clothes I can actually walk around in, as opposed to looking campus provost-y."