NU students boxed in by storage options, move-out time constraints


Illustration by Samantha Powers

USS picks up students’ boxes at the end of the year and delivers them to their new dorms and apartments in the fall — for a price.

Natalie Wells, Reporter

As her sophomore year ended, Weinberg junior Elizabeth Dudley searched for a place to store her belongings over the summer. She planned to move into a sublet in the fall and wanted to avoid the hassle and cost of renting a car to drive to an off-campus storage unit.

Dudley settled on Litterbox, a Northwestern student-run storage company that advertises itself as a cheaper alternative to its partner University and Student Services. But by the time she’d packaged everything into cardboard boxes, she’d spent $250 for Litterbox services. 

“With the size of the boxes, it couldn’t fit as much as I thought,” Dudley said. “That was not fun. That’s more than a paycheck.”

Every summer, more than 1,000 NU students now pay for USS and Litterbox, according to USS founder Vin Peseski. The services pick up their boxes at the end of the year and deliver them to their new dorms and apartments in the fall.

Before USS partnered with the University in 2016, many students used Collegeboxes, a division of U-Haul. Though Collegeboxes still serves hundreds of schools nationwide, USS generally offers lower prices. For instance, storing a suitcase or duffel bag costs $49 through USS, compared to $68 through Collegeboxes. 

Peseski founded USS in 2009 after moving his son and daughter into their college dorms — the “worst experience” he’s ever had in his life, he said. He said he wanted to create a service that gave students multiple options for summer storage.

“Sometimes (universities) expect kids to miraculously have a gang of folks to help them move in or move out,” Peseski said. “That’s just not the case they should have.”

USS can “constantly work at” reducing students’ stress by maintaining a well-organized system, Peseski said. 

Moving out also comes with time pressure. Residential Services’ undergraduate housing contract says dorm residents must vacate their rooms within 24 hours of their last final exam, or by noon on June 10 at the latest. Students must pay $50 a day to stay late. 

Weinberg senior Tessa Seifried considers herself lucky to call Omaha, Nebraska home. When the pandemic interrupted their freshman year in March 2020, living within driving distance of campus reduced their anxiety, they said.

“I just had my dad come out here, and I put as much of (my stuff) as I could into our car,” Seifried said. “Whatever was still in the dorm, my roommate’s relatives who live here took it in for us and stored it at their place.”

For students who have to fly home, moving out is a bigger hassle, said Communication sophomore Gabriella Burgos. 

Burgos said she had to donate “a bunch” of her clothes to save space in her suitcase traveling between campus and her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

“I was heartbroken,” Burgos said. “I’m very attached to (my) clothes.”

Residential Services has attempted to streamline and digitize the move-out process in recent years, according to an email from Carlos Gonzalez, the executive director of Residential Services. 

Resident Assistants now post checklists on students’ doors with a QR code to scan to complete a form to officially check out. Previously, the form was on paper and residents had to schedule check-out appointments with their RA, Gonzalez said.

Despite these changes, NU students like Dudley still must strike a balance between trying to ace their finals and packing up, sometimes at the expense of their emotional well-being.

“(It’s) a lot of internal crying,” Dudley said. “It’s because I’ve run out of time.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @nwells08

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