Scooter the Cougar leads new students through Rogers Gate during 2023 Storm the Gate on Sunday, Aug. 27, on Bass Commons at Columbia College. All photos by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

There was no ignoring the heat during 2023 Welcome Week at Columbia College as temperatures soared above 100 degrees.

“A very literal warm welcome,” says Dave Roberts, dean of Student Affairs.

Students, families and college staff embraced the conditions, staying cool with water, fans and frozen treats. Most festivities throughout the week were held indoors.

By the evening of Sunday, Aug. 27, the weather was much milder for Storm the Gate, a tradition dating to 2012 that caps Welcome Week. New students ran through Rogers Gate and onto Bass Commons behind Scooter the Cougar, marking the start of their CC journey.

Returning students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends cheered on the newcomers, and Andy’s Frozen Custard provided dessert to members of the college community in attendance.

“Not only are the freshmen excited, but so are all of the upperclassmen and the faculty and staff,” says freshman Tirzah Dodorico, of Hermann, Missouri. “Everyone is making it feel really exciting to be at the college and here in Columbia. They are really making it feel like home.”

Dodorico was among 850 Day Program students who began the Fall 2023 semester on Monday, Aug. 28, joining students in the Online Program and Columbia College Global in the start of the academic year.

Approximately 400 students moved into residence halls Wednesday, Aug. 23, filling all available beds on main campus.

“Every year we look forward to an excited new group of students coming to campus,” says Roberts. “This year, we’re excited because we have more residential students than the past few years. We have a lot of energy going into this and there are a lot of activities.”

The college changed the start of move-in day from noon to 9 a.m. to allow students and families a cooler time window to move their belongings. Staff members volunteered for shifts throughout the day to help transport items from vehicles to rooms.

Cassie Lee, a junior from Carlisle, Iowa, was among the first students to arrive at Hughes Hall. She and her mom, Lori Lee, stayed at a hotel in Columbia the night before in order to get an early start.

“We decided we were going to get it done and over with, and then Cassie can use the rest of the day to get settled and do some shopping,” says Lori Lee.

Cassie Lee transferred this year to become a member of the CC bowling team and will study Business.

“I’m excited for a fresh new start,” says Cassie Lee. “I have met a few of my teammates and they were very welcoming. The campus is very close-knit and it’s what I’m used to.”

CC bowling coach Damon Helgevold helped his new student-athlete carry belongings to her dorm room.

“It’s really cool to connect with families more than you already have,” says Helgevold. “Cassie lived about 30 minutes from where I am originally from, so I’ve known her for a long time.”

Across campus in New Hall, sophomore roommates Alex Endermuhle, of St. Louis, and Cole Crandall, of Columbus, Ohio, moved into their room with a game plan they formulated over the summer.

Their innovative setup featured bunked beds on one side of the room and two couches on the other, both with a clear view of a 67-inch television.

“It’s fun moving in, and all the little experiences you get throughout the year are even better,” says Endermuhle, who studies Management Information Systems and serves as a basketball manager.

Endermuhle and Crandall checked with their resident assistants to ensure their unique setup, which also includes two refrigerators, would not break college rules. They received the green light.

“I’ve been really excited all summer to come back and see all the friends I made,” says Crandall, who studies English and Education and plays on the men’s golf team.

A Family Farewell event on Wednesday afternoon provided students an opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones on the quad while enjoying sno cones from VooDoo Sno and cookies from Hot Box Cookies.

On Thursday, Aug. 24, students came to Atkins-Holman Student Commons to pick up necessities for the year ahead, followed by “Your Legacy Starts Here” in Launer Auditorium, where they heard from Student Affairs staff and college leadership and also participated in icebreakers.

Friday, Aug. 25, began with a wellness fair in the morning before an outing to a CC volleyball match in Southwell Gymnasium against Xavier University. The Cougars won the match 3-0.

The weekend included Cougars on the Quad, Coffee Hour at Acola Coffee Company, Couch Wars, a movie on Miller Lawn, classroom tours and a barbeque before Storm the Gate on Sunday.

“All of the faculty and staff are extremely nice, and every single student that I have talked to has been very welcoming,” says Dodorico, who will study Biology and Education and compete in women’s track and field. “I think ‘Welcome Week’ fits it well because I was included in everything.”