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Dorm Continuity Interest Grows

At a Dean’s Office xTalk on the state of the College last Monday, a fair portion of time was spent on the quality of life in Dartmouth’s dorms — or the lack of life, really, given that our residence halls now more resemble transient hotels than social communities. As loyal readers know, the loss of dorm continuity for undergrads has long preoccupied this space.

Now comes the Student Assembly with a survey to “help inform the Board of Trustees and President-Elect Hanlon about the Dartmouth student experience.” The first set of questions focuses on the housing issue. This questionnaire is a good initiative (though I wish the SA would stop ending e-mails with the disingenuous Johnsonian signoff: “Warm regards”).

Dorm Survey.jpg

A system of dorm continuity, in which students could live, if they wished, in the same dorm during their years in Hanover, would improve Dartmouth residential life immensely. Such an easy change should be Phil Hanlon’s first priority.

Addendum: The mismanagement of dorm life at the College has gone on for many years. When I was a student, the number of undergrads was the same as today and dorm life was vibrant. At that time, the administration organized the D Plan so that there were no more than 3,200-3,300 students on campus in any term. Today, fall term can have as many as 4,000 students present, hence the need for the many new dorms in Hanover built over the past 30 years: East Wheelock; Fahey on Tuck Mall; and the Maynard dorms.

If the College could manage the on-campus student population with the same skill as the (few) deans did in my day, there would be more than enough up-campus dorm space for everyone — sufficient, in fact, to tear down the inhospitable Choates and replace them with comfortable dormitories. Then we could convert the River Cluster to a State of New Hampshire minimum security prison, or some similar, appropriate use.

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