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The Choates Hole

The administration never misses an opportunity to shoot itself in the foot. Each year hundreds of eager high school kids come to Dartmouth for summer camps. My son attended the debate camp a couple of years ago, and this year he enjoyed rugby in Hanover. Where does the College lodge these potential applicants — kids who will go back to their schools and tell the world about the wonderful College on the Hill? Not the elegant Gold Coast dorms, nor solid Mass Row, nor even the functional Fayers. Nope. The powers that be put the soon-to-be PR emissaries in the moldy, decrepit Choates. Oh, the stories they will tell back home.

Is anyone thinking in Parkhurst and McNutt? Or are the folks there just spending time calculating their pension benefits and how to spend their five weeks of annual vacation? Sloppiness is the rule almost everywhere in the administration. How sad.

Choates Hole.JPG

Back in the late 1970’s we considered the Choates to be a cross between a cheapo municipal hospital and a federal housing project. Since then they have not aged with grace.

Addendum: At least the girls’ summer soccer camp puts its kids in Ripwood Smith.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The Choate Road dormitories may have been degraded into a “hole” by the late 1970s, as you write, but when I resided in them in 1960-1962, along with Ron Schram and others, they were comfortable and, dare I say, well-designed.

The cluster opened in 1958. Our only complaint was perceived distance from the rest of campus. The Choates were divided into suites, each composed of three doubles, two singles, a common room for socializing and late-night study, and showers/toilets. In addition, there was a faculty apartment connected to the cluster, and the faculty member annually invited all of us to dinner and conversation in small groups, and many of us informally sought advice from him throughout the year.

In 1995, a student invited me to revisit the Choates, which I had not seen for over three decades. The common rooms and faculty residence had disappeared, subdivided into additional sleeping rooms. Perhaps worse, institutional memory of a the Choates as a pioneering student residential cluster with a contiguous faculty apartment appears to have evaporated as the College in the 1990s introduced various top-down initiatives to “redesign” student life.


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