EDITORIAL: A sophomore house divided

Posted by the Editorial Board

In 2013, sophomores might find themselves with new options for housing come room selection day. Amidst the many improvements juniors and seniors would find in the prospective new Scribner Village, administrators tentatively plan on turning part of the new apartment community into housing exclusively for the sophomore class. But while this idea might excite rising sophomores already tired of dorm living, such a plan would splinter an already-fragile common sophomore experience.

The buildings that could become home to 114 sophomores would stand on the hill overlooking the current Scribner Village. Closer to campus but still offering all the amenities of housing ordinarily reserved for upperclassmen, these apartments seem to perfectly suit the transitional stage of sophomore year. But by serving only a small fraction of the sophomore class, the new apartments would create divisions that would fracture any sense of a common sophomore year experience.

The school has long struggled with creating definitive programming for sophomores. Without the structure of the freshman year experience, the excitement of junior study abroad, and seniors' anticipation of post-graduate life, sophomores can sometimes feel lost as they try to navigate potential majors and changing social groups. The close-knit community of an exclusively sophomore apartment complex could provide a much-needed support network if it extended to the class in its entirety. But in this model, it would only estrange a lucky 114 students from their 600 classmates.

Standardized student living situations promote class unity. The freshman class bonds over common roommate trials and successes, most upperclassmen share the challenges and luxuries of apartment living, and sophomores experience a communal fellowship of returning to life in the dorms. They provide a helping hand to fledgling freshmen, navigate dining hall options with an experienced eye and plan for the more independent living of junior and senior year.

New hillside apartments can still house some sophomores, but they should operate more as an emergency overflow measure to de-triple freshmen rooms, rather than a partial reconfiguration of the sophomore year experience. Just as the college offers some underclassmen the occasional Scribner house in cases of congested dorms, these buildings can act as a secondary living alternative to combat the growing issue of forced triples for overcrowded freshman classes. But they should be just that: a temporary remedy, rather than a new half-hearted model.

The college may be correct in building a more cohesive and focused sophomore class from the ground up, changing students' residential lives to reshape their academic lives. We admire our Residential Life's creativity and engagement in seeking to create a positive experience for all students. But creating arbitrary divisions within the class can only further cripple the college's efforts to forge a distinct and cohesive sophomore year experience.

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