The decision was made to move freshman housing from being contained entirely on the Residential Quad to the Susan B. Anthony, Gilbert and Hoeing residence halls on Tuesday.

Formally announced by Dean of The College William Scott Green, Dean of Freshman Deborah Rossen-Knill and Dean of the Faculty Thomas LeBlanc, the move has been under consideration for several weeks.

Major criticisms of the move have been that there has not been enough time to let the current plan develop and that splitting the freshman class into two locations would create a divide within the class.

Proponents of the change counter with the fact that freshman are now divided among six buildings, and the physical divide can be overcome through programming.

Advocates for the change also said that the current system has unintentionally led to de facto sophomore housing and that the switch will bring freshman housing back to its original purpose.

A press release put out by Green, LeBlanc and Rossen-Knill stated that “relocating freshman housing to Susan B. Anthony, Gilbert, and Hoeing allows the college to move forward with the intended principles underlying freshmen housing, one of which was to maximize the possibilities for mixed-class housing after the freshman year.”

Student response towards the change seemed to be positive. Senior Justin Albert said “I lived in Sue B. when I was a freshman and I thought it was great.” Junior Aidee Reyes thinks the move is better than having the only freshmen housed on the Residential Quad, and said “I like the Quad, it shouldn’t be just for freshmen.”

Wednesday’s Freshman Advisory Committee meeting focused on the implementation of the housing switch and the creation of new programs that begin next year. One of the three changes will be the creation of a ‘Freshman Fellows’ position.

Freshman Fellows would be upperclassmen living on freshman halls who would act as positive role models and function as a connection between freshman and student activities. Endorsements from a faculty and student affairs member, a brief application and a grade point average of 3.0 or higher would be required of the Fellows, and they would be guaranteed a single room.

One of the reasons for the creation of the position is to provide additional support for the Residential Advisors on the halls. Dave Feil-Seifer, a junior Residential Advisor in ___ said “Whether as a support for RAs or a role model for freshmen, this will be good.” Junior Suzanne Decker is a RA on the first floor of Crosby Hall said “What has been missing in freshman housing is role models who have active social academic and campus lives.”

The Freshman Advisory Committee wanted to make clear that the Freshman Fellow position will be different from the D’lions, a community service position that currently exists. D’lions have specific programming requirements that they have to fulfill, and preferential rooming on the floor. Freshman Fellows have no specific programming requirements, they are just meant to be a positive influence on the floor.

Approximately 40 of these positions will be created, and applications will be included in Room Draw packets or available at any Residential Life Office.

A second program that will be created is a Senior RA position for freshman living. The senior RAs will be RAs with previous experience that will add one additional staff member to a floor without doubling up on RAs in one hall. These senior RAs will engage in ongoing orientation experiences and work with the other RAs on community programming.

The final program being created for next year is theme clusters, which will be groupings of up to six upperclassmen who live together and share a common interest. A promotional announcement on the program states that “priority will be given to academic, service and nontraditional activities.” These theme clusters will be assigned a faculty and staff advisor and be required to put on one program a semester that deals with their specific theme or interest, and if this requirement is not fulfilled the members could lose half a housing point in the next year’s lottery. Theme clusters will receive advance placement in Lovejoy and Tiernan Halls.

One of the main concerns regarding the implementation of the theme cluster program was that it could overlap with special interest housing. Dean of Freshman Deborah Rossen-Knill stated, “This is not stepping on the toes of special interest housing, it should be a pilot program that compliments special interest housing.”

Residential Life has to move quickly on the finalization of all three programs because housing selection begins soon after spring break. Information on both Freshman Fellows and theme clusters will be in the Room Draw packages. Green looked favorably on the new initiatives, and said “this is a kind of thing where we can begin to create climate that encourages people not to put their interests away, but to live and engage in that enjoyment.”

DeSantis can be reached at kdesantis@campustimes.org



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