Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ORL Foresees an On-Campus Housing Shortage

ORL (the Office of Residential Life) mailed out a letter from Dean Redman today concerning a potential housing shortage next year. First among the students affected are five-year Thayer students and 'super seniors', neither will be able to apply for any on-campus housing. Because of planned demolitions, ORL also anticipates only being able to house 675 seniors next year. This total includes CFS housing. In the letter Redman said that this is about one hundred fewer seniors than has been typical in the last few years; he also was confident that the off-campus housing options are sufficient enough to absorb this change. Two thoughts:
  1. The timing of the letter has caused some complaint. I am unfamiliar with the off-campus housing market, but from what I've been told students who want decent housing need to start looking about a year ahead of time.
  2. Potentially more troubling for the College than the annoyance of some seniors, however, is the annoyance of seniors who publicly accuse the College of not being able to house them because of a priority on graduate education. One of the residence halls already destroyed (Hinman Hall), was destroyed to make room for the Tuck School Living and Learning Center—a residence hall for grad students. Of course, this will never be an issue if enough 09's are able to easily find off-campus housing for next year. Yet it is a bit of a gamble on the administration's part; this is precisely the sort of thing a petition candidate could point to if he wanted to make a point about the administration's priorities

The Daily D's article can be found here.


Christine S. Tian said...

To be fair, the letter also mentions that graduate students participating in the five-year B.E. program through Thayer Engineering school will no longer be eligible for room draw, sending mixed signals about the College's priorities of graduate vs. undergraduate education.

A. S. Erickson said...

That's true; I'll put that in the above post. Still, there does seem to be a distinction between a five-year undergraduate/graduate combined track, and an out-and-out graduate track. Though you're right—it does murky-up point two a bit.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't think the point is about graduate expansion vs. undergrad; despite Hinman being dozed. This was more around poor planning and vision.

I think the larger issue is the vision around Wright's new construction, and whether he was shortsighted in building a smaller McLaughlin cluster and not really thinking through what the Dartmouth residential experience should be. Princeton did a nice job, in my opinion of opting for building a set of residential colleges including the new Whitman College.

And improving the Dartmouth residential experience should not be seen as an attack on the Greek system - both can coexist and prosper. The problem is that with the SLI, both ended up hopelessly intermingled and intertwined.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Tuck School building is not that it houses grad students, it's that it houses nobody. It is still under construction.

Does anyone really think Dartmouth should be subdivided into residential colleges like Princeton was?
Does anyone really think improving the dorms is "an attack on the Greek system"? Has dorm construction ever given that impression?

The residential experience seems well thought-through, especially if you look at the McLaughlin cluster, the new dining halls, and the decompression and upgrades of older dorms. There are not enough beds, but that is nothing new. The reason for the shortage is that Dartmouth is improving the residential experience.

Anonymous said...

The administration has been moving in the direction of "colleges" ala Princeton and other universities for a long time. They have just hidden this under the nomenclature of "clusters". But with local programming, cluster advisors, increasingly decentralized dining, etc. that is exactly the direction.

Can you say "Balkans"?

The College had a concern about Greek behaviour, surely, but it has also long had an eye on the number of beds in those frat houses, even expanding that number in the ones it owned.

Anonymous said...

Clusters are definitely not steps in the direction of residential colleges. The unique East Wheelock Cluster might have been that several years ago, but the college has acknowledged that it is a limited experiment at best. True "residential colleges" are much more expensive than dorms and are nearly impossible to convince faculty to live in. What did the college do when it had a chance to replicate EW on a blank site? It built regular dorms without internal dining, classrooms, or faculty residences. McLaughlin is a direct refutation of the EW experiment.

Dining is "decentralized" by the new 1953 Commons only. Instead of one concentration of dining areas, there are two, with the second made as big as it is only to take pressure off the first. Thayer will be rebuilt even larger, reaffirming the center.

The time to worry about HPY-style residential colleges was when Dean Pelton was in charge and creating the EW "Supercluster." Now that he has left (to create colleges within Willamette U., natch), Dartmouth has distanced itself from the idea.

Anonymous said...

Was McLaughlin downsized in beds and notably "programming spaces" as a refutation of East Wheelock, or simply because of the outcry over size by townspeople and the need to get past the town review process.

During various town/gown meetings on the original McLaughlin plans, Dean Redman spoke in favor of larger footprints for programming reasons. He is still here, and there has been no refutation of the EW concept, other than that not all students like it. I guess if it is clusters with administrative SLI employees as residents, versus colleges with assigned faculty, I'd prefer the latter.

Anonymous said...

Dartmouth did choose to drop beds and a faculty residence from McLaughlin. Not only expense and difficulty finding faculty but town outcry seem to be reasons to avoid residential colleges.

So you were against RCs and now you're for them? Good luck finding profs daring enough to live in the middle of campus, even for free.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, really hate the new dorms. They are overly bright with ugly, light colored woods and on the whole just give me the feeling of a hospital or middle school building. As far as overcrowding, the biggest problem is that all of the rooms are being converted to singles. Dartmouth has been letting in too many terrible, overachieving, high test score losers who are incapable of socializing and now nobody can stand to live with each other. So now we end up with everybody demanding singles, taking their meals to go, eating alone in their dorm, and not contributing anything to the fun social atmosphere that college should really be about.

Anonymous said...

"Dartmouth has been letting in too many terrible, overachieving, high test score losers who are incapable of socializing."

That's an interesting take on the conversion to singles. The more important reason is that most of the rooms being "decompressed" were designed for fewer students.