Residence Life Moves to Neighborhoods

Changes Ahead for On-Campus Housing

As you may know, Reed is currently engaged in a multi-year process to enhance student success and improve student life on campus. This process started in 2013 with the college-wide strategic planning project, which included a working group centered on student success. That working group examined many factors associated with student success, and sought to identify those things that seem to help, as well as what might be getting in the way. As part of their findings and recommendations, a consultant group — Keeling & Associates (K&A) — was hired to conduct a study on life at Reed. Among their findings, K&A found that many students struggle to make meaningful connections, and often feel a lack of belonging in the community. Additionally, some students struggle with wayfinding on campus — while resources exist, navigating access to resources remains a challenge.

The college’s collaboration with K&A coincides with the construction of a new residence hall, providing an opportunity to reevaluate how housing is structured on campus, keeping community and wayfinding as a central priority. We are excited to announce some initial housing-related changes for the upcoming year that will provide a foundation for more intentional community building and better access to resources.

So what’s changing?

Neighborhoods: Next year, residence halls will be grouped into “neighborhood” configurations on campus. First-year students will be concentrated in first-year neighborhoods, while juniors and seniors will be able to select rooms in upper-division neighborhoods. Sophomores will be able to choose their neighborhood based on their interests.

The new residence hall was constructed with the intention of building community, and will be the foundation of the first-year neighborhood, which will include the surrounding buildings. For returning students, there are already successful residential programs on campus that focus on supporting students in the same class year with targeted programming. These include the RCAs senior-only apartments that provide programming in support of the thesis and life after Reed, and Canyon House which is designated for transfers and non-traditional-aged students. Upper-division neighborhoods will expand on this model and create more opportunities for returning students to live together in ways that suit their particular needs.

Intentional Community Opportunities: Additional bed spaces in the new residence hall and the new neighborhood structure will provide returning students with more opportunities to live with friends and create intentional communities based around their interests, needs, and class year. Established friend groups will have a greater ability to select rooms near each other, and House Advisors will be better positioned to meet the needs of their communities with targeted programming and support.

Guaranteed Sophomore Housing: Rising sophomores will be guaranteed housing on campus beginning Fall 2019. During Room Registration, rising sophomores will have the choice between selecting rooms in first-year neighborhoods or upper-division neighborhoods. Students who would like to live in a hall more focused on community building and social connection may consider living in a first-year neighborhood. If students have found their community or friend group, they may consider living in an upper-division neighborhood, which will be more focused on access to resources and skill-building.

From Themes to Living Options: For some Reed students, Theme housing has been an important part of the Reed experience. However, we have observed declining student interest over the past several years. In addition, the layout of Reed’s residential facilities makes it impossible to fully accommodate the needs of students with disabilities who may wish to live in theme housing. This, among other aspects of the theme model has resulted in student feedback that theme communities are not inclusive. Given these issues, the effort to maintain themes results in an overall room selection process that is excessively complicated and cumbersome for students. As a result, we will transition away from theme housing at the end of the 2018–19 academic year to focus on other approaches to building community.

Residence Life and other Student Services departments will be working with current theme community members to support them in maintaining connections and programming opportunities. Meanwhile, living options, which include the Substance Free, Women’s Floor, Students of Color, and Co-Op communities, will remain available for students who wish to live in those areas.

We will continue to provide more details as they become available and look forward to working with everyone in the Reed community to make living on campus an easier, more constructive aspect of the Reed experience.

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