This year, the Office of Residence Life transitioned dorm communities to a “neighborhood” model, grouping students based on class year. They also put an end to theme dorms due to accessibility concerns.
Previously, “all the grades were in any building they so desired,” student Cal Aswad explained. “Basically, they weren’t separated by how old [students] were, and there used to be these things called theme dorms.” Theme dorms allowed students with shared interests to room together and often hosted themed events. Mad Sci, for example, would conduct elaborate science experiments. Music Appreciation Society used to host live concerts, while Silver Screen would screen movies.
“I do feel sad that they don’t have any of the theme dorms anymore because those definitely were great sources of community,” Aswad said. However, he added that the old organization of residential life was sometimes disorderly, and that there are other ways to build community at Reed.
Student Mia Boyer-Edwards said she likes living with people who have different disciplines and perspectives. “If I decided that I wanted to be in a psychology themed house, for instance, and then all of a sudden I took a political science course and was like, ‘Oh my god, I want to do political science,’ then the rest of the year I would be around people who were on a different track.”
Some residential areas still maintain alternate living options such as the Students of Color Community, Women’s Housing, Co-Ops, and Substance-Free Housing.
First-year student Brenna Phelan lives in the women’s housing on the first floor of Sullivan. The majority of residents are freshmen, with only a few exceptions. “It’s pretty nice having all freshmen because you get to experience the same experiences together, and you can talk about your classes that usually all freshmen are taking,” Phelan said.
Many first-year students found it comforting to be surrounded by other first-years during Orientation Week. “It was nice to be surrounded by other people who are going through the same thing as you,” Boyer-Edwards said. However, living in first-year communities can sometimes feel like living in a bubble, she added. “I would like to be able to say hi to upperclassmen in places other than in classes or in Commons… It’d be nice to pass them in the hall and be like, ‘Oh, hey,’ and know them by name.”
Boyer-Edwards said she enjoys having an upperclassman connection through her HA, but maintains a more formal relationship with them. “They’re my HA. They’re not my BFF,” Boyer-Edwards said. “There’s a difference between having upperclassmen on your floor and having one HA.”
As Boyer-Edwards explained, however, the new housing model has pros and cons. “I’m just happy that laundry is free.”