The Method Behind Residence Halls

At a meeting of the College Board of Visitors (one of the University’s volunteer boards) last week, Donna McGalliard, the Dean of Residence Life, was discussing the intentionality of our campus design and the fact that our residence hall plan correlates closely with students’ developmental stages.

First year students all live together on the South part of campus so they can bond as a class. Most of the residence halls feature long hallways with many students per hall, shared bathrooms, common lounges. The intent is to have students learn to live in a community. Lots of people, shared spaces, let everyone begin to feel at home.

Sophomore year, students can choose their own roommate, and they have the opportunity to move to a residence hall on the main Quad (Hearn Plaza). Those are suite-style residence halls where you live with 6-12 other people on one hall and share a bathroom. Developmentally, students are at the point where they have found their niche on campus and have elected to live with other friends who share their values, living styles, and/or are part of their ‘core group’ on campus. The smaller living space helps them form closer bonds.

Juniors and seniors have the option of moving into more apartment-style residence halls. Their living choices mimic what they will find once they graduate and move into the “real world.” Student Apartements on campus and some of the upperclass residence halls like Polo feature separate bedrooms, expanded kitchenettes, etc. This helps our students begin to transition into post-graduate style living conditions and prepare to live more independently.

I had never thought much about the intentionality of how we move students through the residence halls, but Dean McGalliard’s explanation made great sense. I am glad that we’re able to help nurture the development of our students beyond the classroom.

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