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Quaker House Off the Map

Quaker House, a community-style housing option, has been a part of the Haverford College Apartments layout for almost six years, serving up Sunday brunches and hosting Quaker-related events.  But after failing to find the required 11 applicants during Spring Room Draw for the group application, Quaker House will not be around next year.

According to Walter Sullivan, Director of Quaker Affairs, although Quaker House has always found enough applicants in the past, the number of Quakers living there has been on the decline in recent years. Sullivan sees the lack of a Quaker House next year as part of a natural cycle of interest.

“It’s fine to me that there’s sort of an ebb and flow,” said Sullivan. “My belief is that there are people at the core of the Quaker community who are ready and eager to really spend this next year organizing a new Quaker House.”

Students currently living in Quaker House seem to agree that a year without the house could generate discussion about the house’s role at Haverford and ultimately result in a stronger presence on campus.

“It does seem like there will be a new Quaker House in the future,” said Leah Hollander ‘15, a Quaker House resident who had hoped to live there next year.  “I think that with some new (Quaker) energy it could be a really great resource for the community.”

It’s not just Quaker House that seems to have had trouble garnering interest this year.  In comparison to the usual four or five applications for community housing, only two were received and selected: Nerd House and Ehaus.

Several different elements likely contributed to the general loss of interest for community housing next year.

“There are a few different factors,” said Ben Wohl ‘14, Co-Chair of the Residential Life Committee. “One is the sort of cyclical one.  The other side of it … is that Haverford housing for sophomores has improved dramatically over the last few years.”

Wohl specifically mentioned the completion of Tritton and Kim, apartment renovations, and the North Dorms’ common rooms as drawing students away from community housing.

As for Quaker House in particular, Morgana Warner-Evans ‘16 noted both the decline in Quakers living there and the relatively large number of seniors graduating this year.  Still, she has enjoyed her time as a part of the community.

“I really appreciate how this year, we’ve tried really hard to create a culture of being able to support each other,” said Warner-Evans. “For me it’s been a really positive experience.”

In addition to providing for those living there, community houses are expected to offer a service of some sort to the wider Haverford community.  According to Coordinator of Residential Life Franklyn Cantor ‘12, community houses in HCA act as a kind of shared space for students to meet and interact.

“As networks for everyone, I think they’re really accessible,” said Cantor.

With fewer community houses next year than Haverford has ever had since the beginning of community and program housing in 2005, it may seem that students are moving away from this type of living arrangement.  However, last year saw nine applications—more than have ever applied in the program’s history.

Wohl mentioned the possibility of a psychological barrier to applying after last year’s record high and corresponding large number of rejections.  If that is the case, next year may bring a substantial rise in applications.

Marianne “Smitty” Smith, Director of Residential Life, is hopeful that the number will bounce back up.

“When it is a good fit, it seems to be great for both the community and for the students who live there, said Smith.  “I think our hope is that we can help it stay as an option for students.”

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