Due to a steep decline in applications over the past couple of years, Pomona College’s Unity Dorm residence will be discontinued in the fall.
For the past four years, Pomona’s Smiley Hall has housed a residence created by and for students with a dedication to community building and engagement. According to the mission statement, Unity Dorm “emphasizes community building across classes, interests, and experiences in order to offer a strong support system for UD residents.”
“For some, it’s almost an extension of the sponsor group,” said Andrew “Froggy” Castro, who has advised Unity Dorm for five semesters. “It’s a support group for like-minded people.”
The application for Unity Dorm was extensive and designed to ensure commitment to community and campus involvement. Castro said one of the largest indicators of the decline in enthusiasm for Unity Dorm was the fact that, last year, the Office of Campus Life received more applications after room draw numbers were revealed. Students who were not initially interested in the dorm decided to apply after they received high room draw numbers.
Unity Dorm resident Niger Washington PO’12 said he applied mostly because “you’re guaranteed a single without having to go through room draw.”
At the time of its conception, Unity Dorm occupied all of Smiley. Currently, it is located on the first and second floors of the building.
Until this school year, Unity Dorm residents were provided with a budget, enabling them to begin community service projects on and off campus. Their funding was removed this year due to the college’s economic struggles.
Jackie Pomeroy PO’11, who has lived in Unity Dorm the past two years, said, “I signed some contract saying we’d have to do community service but I never heard anything about it the next year.”
“There has been a shift in the climate of the campus,” Castro said. “The Office of Campus Life and the Student Affairs Office have been working to bring a sense of community. It’s also easy to engage in community service with the Draper Center.”
He suggested the stronger campus community and the increase in venues for service work have filled a void that may have existed when students created Unity Dorm.
The mission statement reads, “UD intends to promote non-alcohol-centric party culture that emphasizes socializing and is inclusive of all students on campus.”
Because many of this year’s residents were not initially intending to live in Unity Dorm, some were not dedicated to this aspect of the hall’s mission.
“It’s supposed to be low-key, but there were noise complaints this year,” Castro said.
Castro explained that the degeneration of student initiatives is not uncommon.
“Leadership graduates and interest wanes,” he said. “It’s the nature of the business.”
However, Castro does not believe that the discontinuance of the dorm is necessarily permanent.
“It could come back again if students refocus and reorganize,” he said. “There just needs to be a greater dedication from the residents.”