Students eager to put a challenging pandemic year behind them and experience the excitement of vibrant college campus life moved into residence halls across Belknap Campus on Wednesday and Thursday.

While some early move-ins had already taken place, Wednesday’s official start saw a stream of anxious first-year students and their families hauling belongings and sharing laughs, hugs and tears under warm, sunny skies.

Three mini Cardinal Marching Bands provided that traditional college sound at different locations to add to the celebratory mood.

Approximately 3,500 students — 2,000 of them first-year students — will move into university housing before the start of classes Aug. 23. 

More than 450 will be the first residents of the just-opened Belknap Residence Hall, the university’s first new residence hall in 31 years. It joins two other traditional-style halls that are primarily for first-year students, Miller Hall and Unitas Tower.

“The whole experience has been so pleasant,” said incoming first-year student Mary Schook, who was moving into BRH. “The [Belknap Residence Hall] is super nice, my room is much bigger than I thought it would be and everyone I’ve met along the way has been so friendly and so welcoming.” 

A mini marching band greets incoming students.
A mini marching band greets incoming students.

Mary’s mother, Nancy, said the pleasant move-in experience calmed some of her parental fears.

“It’s been very easy to move in and everyone is very helpful and I feel comfortable leaving her here,” she said. 

Over at Unitas Tower, Katina Carroll said she broke down in tears a couple of times as she helped her son, Brayden Miller, move onto campus from their home in Corbin.

“It’s pretty emotional. I’m proud of who he is and where he’s going in life, but then again, he’s still my baby,” Carroll said, adding she thinks she’ll probably cry all the way home. “That’s why I brought somebody with me to be able to drive me home, because I don’t know that I can even handle that.”

Other residence halls on Belknap Campus are the suites in Community Park, Kurz Hall, Louisville Hall and Billy Minardi Hall, and apartments in Cardinal Towne, Bettie Johnson, University Pointe and University Tower.

Dozens of Welcome Week activities were planned for incoming first-years and second-years who didn’t get a chance to experience Welcome Week in 2020 due to COVID-19 cancellations. Commuting students and transfer students also have specific activities aimed at getting them settled at UofL.

Just some of the activities include a free welcome-back concert at Cardinal Stadium, the traditional SOUL community service day, a scavenger hunt, yoga and other exercise classes, playtime with puppies, lawn games and late-night ice cream floats.

Natalie Uhl, digital content coordinator in the Office of Communications and Marketing, contributed to this story.