Haverford is planning to switch up the dorms first-years are assigned to, beginning with the 2021–22 school year. It’s the first major change to residential life on campus since the opening of Tritton and Kim halls in 2012.
The North Dorms, consisting of Jones, Lunt, and Comfort halls, which have traditionally been housing for upper-class students, will become first-year residence halls. To balance things out, Barclay Hall will be entirely converted from first-year housing to upper-class housing. The Haverford College Apartments (HCA) will also become upper-class only.
With this move, all of Haverford’s first-year students will have single rooms in Gummere Hall, Tritton, or the North Dorms, a rarity among colleges.
Dean of Residential and Community Life Nathan Diehl explained in an email that the reconfiguration was driven by a longtime goal of moving first-years out of the Apartments.
“In looking at best practices (as it relates to the first-year residential experience), we wanted to move first-years closer to academic buildings, the Dining Center, etc. so that they are in close proximity and can familiarize themselves with all of the resources this campus has to offer,” he said.
Haverford expects a large incoming Class of 2025, especially considering students who deferred their enrollment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new configuration will allow the college to house all first-year students and their Customs team members up-campus.
Dean Diehl added that the demand for living in HCA among upper-class students has also grown over the years, creating another reason for the swap. This demand may have been driven by the fact that the Apartments are one of the few residential buildings where upper-class students are given the choice to opt out of the meal plan. However, first-years in the Apartments were not permitted to opt out, so by making the Apartments open only to upper-class students, this will standardize meal plan options across all HCA residents.
Adrian Velonis ’22, who was a Customs Person in HCA 26 last year, agreed that moving first-years out of the Apartments would be a positive development, calling them “potentially isolating” for first-years.
“I was in Gummere as a first-year, and it was easier to meet people because there are nine halls right next to each other. In the apartments, it’s harder to naturally hang out,” said Velonis. He added that the structure of an individual apartment tends to break first-year halls into smaller groups, a result of the multiple common areas and two-floor setup.
But many sophomores and juniors expressed frustration with the lack of suite-style housing for upper-class students under the new plan, especially since seniors are likely to continue occupying the majority of suites in Leeds and Lloyd halls. “The North Dorms specifically have operated as a sophomore and junior space, and this is being taken away as an option without the school providing an adequate alternative,” said Sophia Kaplan ’23.
Kaplan pointed out that upper-class students often have established friend groups, adding: “If anyone is going to live on Haverford’s campus in doubles, this group should predominantly be composed of first-years who are just now being introduced to the community, finding friends, and learning to live away from home for the first time.”
When the college decided last summer that all housing would be single occupancy in response to COVID-19, many of the Apartments underwent construction that converted the living rooms into bedrooms. This change will remain for the foreseeable future. The exceptions are the open floor plan Apartments and the HCA 800s, which were designated as quarantine housing. Since those buildings were not converted, they will retain the previous three-person (one double and and one single) and two-person (one double) configurations.
The Office of Residential Life plans to reevaluate the HCA floor plan situation during the 2021–22 school year. “We want to hear from students if they prefer the all singles (no living room) set-up or if they want the living room back, thus making the apartments doubles and singles again,” said Dean Diehl.
“While I’m glad that they’re all singles, I’m going to miss having a living room,” said Kara D’Ascenzo ’22, who’s planning to live in the Apartments in the fall. “Post-COVID, I’ve been looking forward to hanging out with my friends, and that gets a lot harder when there’s a hallway instead of a dining room table.”
D’Ascenzo also noted that she felt “a bit apprehensive” about the Apartments given the maintenance problems earlier this semester, including at least one roof cave-in, but said that she was excited to live there nonetheless.
Although most of the Apartments will remain all-singles, other residential halls will see the return of double rooms in the fall, including 710 College Ave, 773 College Ave, Barclay, Cadbury House, Drinker House, and Yarnall House.
On the other hand, the North Dorms common rooms, which were pressed into service as bedrooms, will likely be converted back to common rooms for the new first-year halls.
With a larger first-year class and the feasibility of study abroad during the fall semester still unclear, residence halls will be crowded come fall. However, one possible escape valve could be a rise in off-campus living. Although only 2% of Haverford students have historically resided on-campus, that percentage grew significantly during the pandemic.
Hannah Yeakey ’21 is one of the students who has moved off-campus since the pandemic. . After taking the fall 2020 semester off, she elected to live in Bryn Mawr with six other Fords to avoid the hassle of mid-year room draw. Had it not been for the pandemic, Yeakey doubts that she would have chosen to move off-campus.
Yet, she added, “I’ve enjoyed having a space a little bit separate from campus, but still maintaining a connection to Haverford.” This fall, she plans to remain off-campus with two other Haverford students—this time in Ardmore, just a block away from the Apartments.