Duke first-year students move in to East Campus dorms

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 05:03 PM

As volunteers streamed by carrying luggage and other items outside of his Duke University residence hall on Tuesday, freshman Jack Labosky said the word he would use to describe the environment around him was “bustling.”

Tuesday was move-in day for first-year students living in the university’s East Campus residence halls. More than 1,700 first-year students are starting at Duke this fall.

They are from 48 U.S. states, mostly from North Carolina and from California,  and 47 countries, according to the Duke Office of News & Communications.

As cars, vans and SUVs pulled in around the residence halls Tuesday morning, upperclassmen students involved in the First-Year Advisory Counselor Program quickly moved in to help the students and their families move belongings inside.

They called out welcome greetings to the students and clapped their hands as music played in the background. In addition to helping the students move in, the students in the program also serve as peer mentors for six to eight freshmen.

“It’s exciting,” said Labosky, who is from Clovis, California. As a member of the baseball team, he said he was able to spend time on campus during the summer that allowed him to get more acclimated to his new surroundings.

First-year students will have the campus to themselves until upperclassmen start moving into West and Central Campus residence halls on Friday.

They will be participating in activities this week ranging from a university-sponsored southern-style dinner with their families to a convocation ceremony on Wednesday and trips to the American Tobacco district or to Frankie’s Fun Park on Saturday.

“We are thrilled to welcome a new group of more than 1,700 students to Duke,” said Jordan Hale, assistant dean of students and director of new-student programs, in a news release. “We want to set a welcoming tone to their new academic, social and educational communities. We have an informative, intellectual program to help students make an effective transition to college.”

This year for the first time in 25 years, first-year students at Duke will not hear from award-winning poet and author Maya Angelou. Angelou died in May at the age of 86.

In past lectures to Duke freshmen during orientation, she has spoken about students’ promise for the future, about the value of their education, and about the sacrifices others have made to get them where they are.

On the Sunday before classes -- when Angelou typically spoke -- students will meet with faculty who live in their residence halls and will also have a floor meeting with their resident assistants. There will be a concert performed by the university’s eight a cappella groups that day.

For Mathama Bility of Cary, the move-in process on Tuesday was fast simple.

“I was surprised by how fast it went,” she said.

James Brookes of Ontario, Canada, said Tuesday’s atmosphere was much different than when he moved in on Friday, when it was quieter. He and his family drove to Durham with a stop along the way in West Virginia. The campus was what he expected, except that the heat is “still pretty bad, especially coming from Canada.”

The campus environment on Tuesday, he said, was “definitely different from what it was before.”

Ebony Hargro of Charlotte said she thought that Tuesday’s move-in day was “well oiled and organized.” After she and her parents unloaded her belongings onto a sidewalk outside of Blackwell Residence Hall, students came over to greet her and help her carry in her things.

“It didn’t really feel nervous. I guess it hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “It’s really exciting; a new chapter in my life. It feels good.”