Freshman housing will move this fall from the Residential Quad to Susan B. Anthony, Gilbert and Hoeing Halls in an attempt to facilitate mixed-class housing after freshman year.

Formally announced by Dean of The College William Green, Dean of Freshman Deborah Rossen-Knill and Dean of the Faculty Thomas LeBlanc on Feb. 26, the move had 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 freshman housing, one of which was to maximize the possibilities for mixed-class housing after the freshman year.”

Former system

Freshman housing’s first year resulted in some positive outcomes, but there were also complaints by many about some unintended outcomes. Many of the residential advisors and D’Lions stationed on the residential quad voiced reservations about last year’s system.

Some of the main complaints was the freshmen’s lack of upperclass interaction and low levels of involvement in campus activities.

“In the beginning, it worked well to give them a sense of community on their hall, but as time went on, the lack of interaction with upperclassmen became a problem,” Take Five scholar and RA on the first floor of Crosby Awista Ayub said.

Ayub cited this lack of outside interaction as one of the reasons freshman participation in campus activities is down. “In the future, I think you’re going to see a lack of leadership from this class in campus activities,” Ayub said.

Junior and RA on the first floor of Lovejoy Jason Sanderson added, “They feel totally disconnected with the rest of the school. They have no clue as to how to begin to get involved.”

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 only freshmen housed on the Residential Quad, and said “I like the quad, it shouldn’t be just for freshmen.”

New programs created

The Feb. 27 Freshman Advisory Committee meeting focused on the implementation of the housing switch and the creation of new programs for fall 2002. One of the three changes will be the creation of a “Freshman Fellows” position.

Freshman Fellows are upperclassmen living on freshman halls who 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 are required of the Fellows, and they are guaranteed a single room.

One of the reasons for the creation of the position is to provide additional support for the RA on the halls. Dave Feil-Seifer, a junior and RA, 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 thaPthey 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 have been created. Applications were included in last spring’s room draw packets or were available at any Residential Life Office.

A second program that was created is a senior RA position for freshman living. The senior RAs are RAs with previous experience that 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 fall 2002 is theme clusters, which are 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 are assigned a faculty and staff advisor and are 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 receive advance placement in Lovejoy and Tiernan Halls.

One of the main concerns regarding the implementation of the new theme cluster program was that it could overlap with existing special interest housing options. 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.”

Green discussed 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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