When it finally came time for me to part with my family on that tepid day back in August, I was left with a few bits of advice. My dad told me to wish him luck in the empty nest with my mother, my mother told me to study hard and avoid girls like the plague and my sister told me to make friends in high places. I thought about what they said ? sighed for my dad’s poor abused sanity ? and made my way up to the top floor of Lovejoy Hall.
Some five months later, I realize that, of the counsel I was given that day, what I probably should have taken more to heart is what my sister told me ? to make friends in high places. While I’d love to have more upperclassmen friends, the problem is quite simply that I don’t and that I have not been afforded too many avenues for acquiring them.
Granted, I have met some people in my classes and in clubs and whatnot, but still, all of the people I consider anything more than mere acquaintances are freshmen. In fact they are all people on my floor.
Therein lies both the benefit and detriment of the institution of freshman housing.
First, we don’t know anybody but each other. While I think I have fostered some friendships that will stick with me through my college years ? perhaps the point of freshmen housing in the first place ? it’s a mixed bag. I am close with my floor. On the other hand, I am close with my floor and no one else. I can’t help but wonder if I’d be better connected if there were people other than freshmen where I lived.
Second, the sophomores hate us, and legitimately so. We have the good housing, nearer than Sue B. to all of the academic buildings and eating places (except Danforth). Plus our rooms themselves are bigger, newer and just better in general. They have every reason to be a little jealous.
Third, the program has not been quite as effective as the administration had hoped. I think that overall the separated housing has stirred up a sense of community in the freshman class, but it has exerted a canceling if not greater rending force on all-school unity. I feel that my class has become quite isolated. I asked around trying to see if it was just me, but the response I got didn’t surprise me ? most of first-years I talked to think there should be more of a link between us and the rest of the school.
One link there used to be between upperclassmen and freshmen was special interest housing. SIH gave students, especially incoming freshmen, the ability to live with others ? in essence choose their friends ? based on interest rather than age. Unfortunately, mostly due to freshman housing, SIH is dying. Now that the steady stream of new students has been taken away from the program, the tradition is quickly fading.
So here’s the plan ? the freshmen housing charter gets amended, such that we move from an unwieldy Freshmen Quad all the way down to more manageable freshmen hallways, and also allow freshmen to opt into SIH.
That way a sense of class unity can still be instilled, while keeping us connected to the rest of the student body in more than an ephemeral way. And if the whole operation is moved into Sue B., or at least as much as the facility will allow, the eating situation will be made simpler, as freshmen tend to be the only ones who go to Danforth anyway.
SIH can move back to the Residential Quad and regain freshmen, and the sophomores will have a crack at nicer housing, therefore promoting better inter-class relations.
I don’t think the experiment has been by any means a total failure, but there is most definitely room for improvement. I hope this first year will serve as a helpful basis for those who might decide how this will come out. If they can keep open minds on the subject and listen to student input ? freshmen and upperclassmen ? freshman housing could turn out to be a gratifying and enriching addition to college living.
Devon is a freshman and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.