Thousands of UI freshmen coming to town on Thursday

CHAMPAIGN — Official Move-in Day at the University of Illinois is Thursday, and you know what that means: stay away from campus.

Signs along Lincoln Avenue and other major thoroughfares went up last week warning motorists to "Expect long delays" on Thursday, when more than 7,000 freshmen are expected to descend on the UI.

Actually, students have been trickling back to campus since last week. Residence halls opened at noon Sunday, and students who work in housing or dining services arrived by the weekend. Those in "Living and Learning" communities moved in Tuesday.

Upperclassmen are asked to wait until Saturday, after the new students are settled.

"It is spaced out throughout the week, but Thursday is the big day," said Kirsten Ruby, associate director of housing for marketing and communications.

Traffic is expected to be heavy along several entry routes into campus all day Thursday, including Lincoln Avenue (near Illinois Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Florida Avenue), Fourth Street (south of Green Street), and Kirby Avenue (between First and Fourth streets).

No streets will be closed completely, but several interior roads will be converted into one-way streets around residence hall complexes — including Peabody Drive in Champaign, and Illinois and Nevada streets west of Lincoln in Urbana.

Police will join housing staff members and student I Guides to set up cones and help direct traffic starting around 6 a.m., said UI Police Lt. Matt Myrick. Move-in officially runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but students are expected to arrive earlier. Cones will be removed around 4:45 p.m. Ruby said.

Motorists who leave their cars parked on designated routes may find their vehicles "relocated" to the Assembly Hall lot, though they will not be charged, Ruby said.

"Lincoln Avenue is probably going to be bumper to bumper all the way from Florida to University Avenue for a good part of the day," Myrick said. "If you don't have to drive that way, if you can find an alternate route, we certainly encourage people to do that."

Here are some other events scheduled as part of the UI's "Welcome Days" and fall orientation and related street closures:

— New Student Convocation, 11 to 11:45 a.m. Friday, State Farm Center: The featured speaker is Billie Theide, professor in the School of Art and Design. Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Provost Ilesanmi Adesida and Illinois Student Senate President Damani Bolden will also give brief remarks.

— Illinois Sights and Sounds, noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium: After an attempt at a world-record salsa serving, students will have lunch, meet UI coaches, learn the school fight song and cheers, then assemble for a class photo in the shape of an "I." Each student will receive an orange T-shirt for the photo op.

— Parade of Colleges, 1:30 p.m. Friday: Students will march from the stadium with balloons and banners to their college receptions at Foellinger Auditorium, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and other venues across campus.

Kirby and Peabody will both be closed from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, between First and Fourth streets, for students walking to the convocation. Kirby will be closed again from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 or so as they walk to the stadium.

There will also be intermittent traffic delays along Fourth Street as the students exit the stadium en masse at 1:30 p.m., said Rhonda Kirts, associate dean of students. Police will be stationed at the corner of Fourth and Peabody, but "people may want to avoid that intersection."

— Illini Union Service First, 8 a.m. to noon Saturday: About 740 freshmen will volunteer across campus and throughout the community. Launched several years ago, the event is open to all first-year students and has grown each year, said Abbey Wolfman, director for new student programs. It's an opportunity for students to learn about service opportunities in Champaign-Urbana and connect with the community, she said.

— Quad Day, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, UI Quad: Students can learn about how to get involved in more than 500 registered organizations across campus.

— Taste of Nevada, 4 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, 1200 block of West Nevada Street, Urbana: First-year students can tour campus cultural houses and enjoy free food and entertainment.

For a complete schedule of events: http://www.odos.uiuc.edu/newstudent/Programs/WelcomeDays.html

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