UMD students put a positive spin on moving in

The University of Minnesota Duluth's freshman move-in day, notorious for off-campus students greeting new arrivals with suggestive messages on signs, provided a twist Thursday.

UMD move-in
Champ, mascot for the University of Minnesota Duluth, joins others in waving to motorists driving past or into UMD on Thursday. (Steve Kuchera /

The University of Minnesota Duluth's freshman move-in day, notorious for off-campus students greeting new arrivals with suggestive messages on signs, provided a twist Thursday.

Student groups dressed in maroon and gold stood among "welcome to UMD" signs on College Street -- representing a "positive and welcoming environment for incoming freshmen," UMD senior Kaitlin Norwood said.

The students also waved and gave directions, said Norwood, an intern with the Women's Resource and Action Center at UMD.

"I am not bothered by people who want to sit out on their front lawns and, like, wave and have a good time," she said. "Where you cross the line is when you start making signs that say, 'Drop your daughters off here,' 'Check your v-cards at the door,' '18-plus sleepover.' It's those kinds of things that just get really icky. It doesn't create a very nice feeling for parents, as well as incoming freshmen."

The Women's Resource and Action Center invited all UMD student groups to help out Thursday as most of the 2,900 students who will live on campus moved in. Students from the Multicultural Center and the Student Association helped take turns manning College Street from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. With their large numbers, the group hopes to get student athletes, sororities and fraternities to turn out next year, Norwood said.


The "welcome to college" signs and parties along 21st Avenue East and Woodland Avenue were fewer Thursday than in years past, but still drew honks of support -- and some irritation, based on police calls.

Jacques Beaulier was with several friends drinking and holding signs outside his home on College Street on Thursday.

"We've been targeted for holding signs," Beaulier said. "We made sure everyone who is drinking is 21. We've been rather under control. Police talked to us about our behavior. We're not trying to insult anyone. We had a discussion as a house to keep it tame and respectful but still have a good time."

Police officers, who maintained a high profile in the campus areas Thursday, added a sign of their own: a digital board at Woodland and College advising students to "Be good neighbors."

UMD has heard concerns about students and their off-campus signs, said Susana Pelayo-Woodward, director of the UMD Office of Cultural Diversity and coordinator of the Multicultural Center.

"We understand students like to have fun, but it wasn't a very positive image," she said. "Students at UMD do a lot of great things for the Duluth community. ... There are quite a few parties (during move-in day), but we have hundreds of volunteers helping (freshmen) move in."

Senior John Grotta, who stood in his yard holding a beer stein and a sign that said, "Honk if she's a 7," remembers waiting for hours in a car to unload his belongings as a freshman. He was entertained by the various signs and students on lawns waving to the new students.

"We're showing the freshmen how it's supposed to be done in a respectful yet fun way," he said.


Junior Jackie Yip was among the new UMD-sanctioned welcoming committee on College Street. The groups of students gathering at houses along the routes to UMD and the College of St. Scholastica "are just having a day of fun," he said. "A lot of students want to express their emotions about UMD. ... We're just doing it a different way."

Duluth Police Officer Russ Bradley said police totaled 17 stops and responses to calls from the area around UMD and St. Scholastica for parties, disturbances or conversations about alcohol as of 3:30 p.m.

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