When East Campus officially opened to the Class of 2009 Wednesday, a crop of eager freshman students unloaded clothes, books and other belongings into their new home: Bell Tower Dormitory, the University’s newest residence hall.

Bell Tower is a point of contact among different parts of the University and includes several unique, collaborative features. It is a place where students can live in spacious dorm rooms, socialize in media and game rooms, learn in classrooms, voice concerns to police officers at the Duke University Police Department substation, meet with professors in conference rooms or concentrate on their health and nutrition at a health space dubbed the “Zen post.”

Though many of the freshman residents marveled at the novelty of living in a brand new dorm, some said they were surprised by other people’s reactions to their living situation and are still grasping the idea of spending their first year at Duke in the state-of-the-art dorm.

“I’ve gotten a lot of envious glares when I tell people I’m living in Bell Tower. I didn’t even know it was such a commodity,” freshman resident James Melnick said. “I like the idea of living somewhere where no one else has lived.”

Freshman Emmy Feldman said the newness of the dorm squelched any sentiments of her wishing to live anywhere else.

“I kind of wanted to be on main quad, but now that I feel the [air conditioning], I definitely appreciate it,” she said. “When my brother moved into Cornell [University] it looked like a dungeon, but this is really nice.”

Other students were impressed by the size of their living space; Bell Tower is home to 66 double rooms that average 220 square feet.

“It feels unreal. Never in my life did I think my room would be this big,” freshman Maura Tresch said.

Many parents were also in awe of the University’s newest living space.

“It’s like a hotel; when I went to college it was like a prison yard,” said George Bochetto, whose son lives in Bell Tower.

Older students working as First-Year Advisory Counselors and assisting with East Campus move-in also admired the new dorm.

“The first time I stepped in I went, ‘whoa,’” said sophomore Andrew Sobel. “It’s like the Four Seasons Bell Tower.”

Sophomore Mary Katherine Strong added that she could tell the older students’ ravings about the dorm gave the freshmen living there an idea of how privileged they are.

“I think they’re spoiled,” she said.