Five-hundred students will be calling Half Dome, the newest addition to student housing at UC Merced, home for the school year. UC Merced is coming back to life after the summer, 1,600 students and their parents set foot on campus Sunday morning.
Freshman Ramiro Molina and his family drove nearly six hours from Los Angeles. Molina is settling in to the room in the new residence hall, built for him and two roommates.
"Not so big, but comfy, we'll get to each other pretty well" Molina said.
There are 6,000 students enrolled in UC Merced this year, 2,100 of them are living in the residence halls and suites. That is the most students living on campus since the university opened in 2005.
"We had 17,000 applications just for this fall, so that means we're able to house more of our incoming students," Jane Lawrence, with UC Merced student affairs said.
UC Merced is able to house more students in large part because of Half Dome, the new five-story residence hall, which Includes three floors reserved for freshman. This year's incoming class is the first to break in the new rooms, the new furniture, and all the new amenities.
"Pretty happy about that, because you know everything's not been used yet, so it's pretty good," Freshman Kamani Morrow said.
"I'm excited we get to set standards for how this place is," Molina said.
Faculty says the additional on campus housing should enhance the student's educational experience at UC Merced.
"All the research shows that students do better academically if they live on campus," Lawerence said. "It's much easier to go to the library, to access to faculty members, to go to office hours, study groups. You join clubs and become part of the campus community."
The students will have a few days to get settled into their dorms before classes start on Thursday.