Because of the unusually large Class of 2025, Haverford decided to make some changes to first-year living. In the North Dorms—Jones, Lunt, and Comfort Halls—one such adjustment has been repurposing the common rooms into doubles, in an attempt to accommodate all 411 members of the Class of 2025. This is a sharp contrast to the 343-person sophomore class; one reason the first-year class is so large is the fact that those who accepted their offer of admission to Haverford were up 2% from the previous year.
For the 2021–22 school year, the North Dorms were primarily converted to first-year housing and both Barclay Hall and the Apartments—formerly available to first-years—are now only available to upperclassmen. This change was aimed at accommodating the large incoming Class of 2025, as well keeping first-years closer to the Dining Center, academic buildings, and their peers.
While seemingly a good idea, this switch has caused a few major problems. “All of our keys work for that double,” said Jacob Chew ’25, referencing the newly repurposed common rooms in Jones. Although it is not surprising to have a few hiccups after such a change, this specific error poses both a privacy and security problem. In past years, this access would have been welcomed and expected, as they were the floor’s common rooms, but with the 2021 modifications, this can well be classified as an unhappy surprise.
Moreover, erasing the common rooms from the dorms has also affected social living: “I don’t know 40% of the people on my floor or two of my suitemates… and anybody on the other floors,” said Danielle George ’25, another first-year living in Jones. Usually, common rooms are used as a place for first-year halls to convene and hang out, but with the loss of this communal space, those living in the North Dorms are struggling to find a place to socialize.
In past years, the first-years were grouped during Customs Week by hall, but with these changes came a different way of managing Customs: the Class of 2025’s Customs Week was organized more randomly, making halls a conglomeration of people from different dorms. Consequently, those living in the North Dorms have had very little opportunity to interact with those in their halls, a barrier to socialization.
Not only have the North Dorms been negatively affected socially with the erasure of common rooms, but only single rooms have portable air conditioning units, leaving doubles comparatively hot and humid. The last week of August and first few weeks of September had temperatures up to the nineties, making living in North Dorm doubles extremely uncomfortable: “It can get tough, especially at night when you wake up in heat sweats,” said Chew.
But these changes have not been all bad. “It does actually encourage you to go out and explore the campus a bit more, especially when you first move in,” said Chew. Contemplating the lack of a common room “made me go out and see the Tritton people and meet Gum people and talk to them,” he added.
Hopefully, as the year goes on, these problems will resolve themselves. One possible solution to the lack of common rooms is the potential repurposing of the basement in Jones. Already furnished with couches, the basement could become the new North Dorms’ common room. Although perhaps not the ideal hangout spot, with a little creativity, help from the school, and cleaning, these spaces could prove an excellent solution to one of the many problems facing our northern neighbors.