In a flurry of colorful posters, butterfly chairs and nervous excitement, students from the University of Delaware’ Class of 2017 moved into their dorms on Saturday.

Greeting the students were two new residence halls, built at the site of the former Gilbert Complex on Haines Street. The five-story buildings – modeled after the popular Independence Complex on Laird Campus – will house a total of nearly 800 students.

The buildings are named for Eliphalet Wheeler Gilbert, the first and third president of the UD, and Louis L. Redding, the black lawyer who sued UD in 1950 in a successful attempt to desegregate the institution.

Mother Julie Farrell, of Hillsborough, N.J., said that the new dormitories seemed nice and that the process of moving her son, James Farrell, into his new room was going smoothly.

“He’s a pretty low-key kid, but I think he’s excited,” Farrell said. “I don’t think he realizes yet all the opportunities he has here.”

Classes for the 3,600 new freshman, as well as returning students, began Tuesday.

Diana Vansant, administrative assistant of residence life and housing at UD, supervised teams of students called “Blue Hen Helpers,” who helped new students move in at the Rodney and Dickinson Complexes on Hillside Road. According to Vansant, this year was the easiest in all her years of helping with move-in day.

“It’s been so smooth,” Vansant said. “Everything has been a smooth operation. People know exactly what they have to do. They come in, the Blue Hen Helpers are there to help them, they unpack their stuff and they roll out.”

After unpacking, freshman Maddie Stoll and her parents, Connie and Craig Stoll, of Long Valley, N.J. headed over from Russell dormitory to the Perkins Student Center, where complimentary refreshments were being served in the Scrounge Café as part of 1743 Welcome Days. The initiative, which seeks to get students comfortable and excited for college life, also incorporated weekend events such as a comedy show and activities night.

Overall, Stoll said she was pleased with her move-in experience. She said she felt she had a good amount of space in her dorm room and that moving in was very easy because there were plenty of Blue Hen Helpers.

“I’m excited,” Stoll said. “It’s something different.”

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