More Details on New Neighborhood Housing Model

Starting next academic year, Residence Life will be restructuring on-campus living to prioritize community building and resource accessibility. Residence halls will now be grouped geographically into first-year and upper-division “neighborhoods,” although sophomores will have the choice to select between the two types of neighbourhood.

According to Assistant Director of Training and Education Julia Nicholson, the first-year divisions will be focused on supporting first-year students in their transition to college and connecting them to resources. Although plans have not yet been finalized, ResLife envisions bringing in tutors for Humanities 110 and introductory science courses. ResLife will also emphasize involvement on campus by making opportunities like the Engagement Fair more accessible.

HAs will also have more one-on-one conversations with their first-year residents, says Assistant Dean of Students for Residence Life Amy Schuckman. “We find that not all students want to go to bigger community-building events, while some students want to form individual relationships with their HAs  […] These meetings will allow HAs to tailor their support for individual students,” explains Schuckman.

Meanwhile, upper-division neighborhoods will prioritize access to resources and skill-building. HAs in these neighborhood will tailor events and activities in accordance with the specific interests of its residents. “This will allow more flexibility in terms of programming and resources that particular community of students prefer,” says Assistant Director of Housing Operations Clea Taylor.

Because room registration offers upperclassmen the opportunity to choose to live with their friends, ResLife envisions more social gatherings and interactions within the residence halls.

“We’re very excited for the opportunity for students to be able to maintain the connections they made during their first year at Reed,” says Schuckman. “We’ve heard complaints about students being unable to maintain these connections because they weren’t in the same physical location.”

According to Schuckman, there were multiple factors that shaped the map of the neighborhoods. The Student Success Committee, in collaboration with consultants Keeling & Associates, found that students who drop out do so during their first or second year at Reed, and proposed that the new residence hall be designed to foster a sense of community among first-year students. Residence halls were also grouped to ensure that students of all class years would have access to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible buildings.

Since the plan was unveiled, some students have voiced concerns that they will become increasingly segregated by class year. In response to these concerns, ResLife has invited students to focus group sessions in order to share their expectations for their project, and current experiences with on-campus living.

“One thing to consider is that lot of those spaces where students are having these interactions with other class years are not necessarily spaces in resident halls,” says Nicholson. “What we’re hearing from students is that they’re connecting with upperclass students from their potential major or their clubs. Those things aren’t going away.”

ResLife is still collecting data from the focus groups sessions. Taylor notes that individual opinions and experiences varied. “This reinforced our understanding that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ model,” she said, “but we plan to learn from the next few years by collecting student feedback and making adjustments.” Besides the neighborhood housing models, other changes to on-campus living include guaranteed sophomore housing and the removal of theme housing options.

Transfer and non-traditional students will continue to have guaranteed housing, as well as a community in the Canyon House dedicated to them. They can also request to live in either a first-year or upper-division neighborhood. The Students of Color, Substance Free, Women’s Floor, and Co-Op communities will also continue into the upcoming academic years.

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