Claremont McKenna College announced April 10 that it plans to increase the number of beds reserved for first-year students from 10 percent per residence hall to 20 percent. This policy change left significantly fewer spaces for current students in popular residence halls, particularly those in North Quad: Green Hall, Appleby Hall, Boswell Hall and Wohlford Hall.
The announcement was emailed to the student body four days before the start of room draw.
CMC does not have any first-year designated residence halls, but instead leaves varying amounts of rooms open for first-year students in each residence hall. Previously, 10 percent of beds in every residence hall were allocated for new students.
In the years past, this policy has led to a higher population of first-year students living in South Quad. This has happened because North Quad residence halls tend to be more popular than those in Mid Quad and South Quad, resulting in students selecting rooms in North Quad much more quickly than in South Quad during room draw. As a result, the only rooms left empty in North Quad after room draw are the 10 percent of rooms reserved for first-year students, while many rooms in South Quad besides the reserved 10 percent of rooms remain empty.
According to an email to TSL by Director of Residential Life Eric Vos, the change was made to ensure that first-year students in the most sought-after residence halls did not become isolated from their own class, and to decrease the high proportion of first-years in less sought-after residence halls. Vos wrote that he sees integrating first-years with the other classes as an important part of CMC culture.
“Our housing system of integrating new students with students from all class years has worked very well for our community: New students get the chance to interact with and receive advice from older students right across the hall,” Vos wrote. “This dynamic of the older students mentoring the new students is paid forward each year, an aspect of student life that sets CMC apart from other small residential colleges.”
However, many members of the sophomore class raised concerns about having a limited selection due to this change. Recently elected Class of 2018 President Russell Salazar CM ’18 has been advocating for members of his class, as many rising sophomores feel this policy is unfair to them.
“The main concern has to do with the implementation of a policy without a full acknowledgment and assessment of effects on specific groups of people … [this policy] affects the class of 2018 much more than the other classes,” Salazar said.
Rising male sophomores in particular have seen a negative impact of this change because North Quad residence halls seem to be more popular among male students than female students. Female students have shown a strong tendency to prefer living in Mid Quad or South Quad residence halls even though half of the North Quad rooms are reserved for them.
With 20 percent of the rooms now reserved for first-year students, male students have had difficulty getting into North Quad residence halls. During room draw last week, not a single rising male sophomore was able to draw a room in North Quad. Many rising male juniors were unable to draw rooms in North Quad as well. As a result, there will be a larger number of female sophomores and first-years in North Quad than male sophomores and first-years.
Vos said that the administration acknowledged this issue but decided it was best to continue to designate half the rooms for men and half for women, in order to maintain gender equality.
Kyleigh Mann CM ’18 said that the policy change was somewhat needless, since first-year students tend to flock together regardless of where they live.
“It seems silly to ignore the preference of people who have been here for some time so we can evenly distribute the freshmen, which doesn’t even make that much of a difference socially,” Mann said.
Salazar saw it as a mixed blessing for incoming students. Each residence hall will have at least 20 percent first-years, but there will be fewer residence halls with a strong first-year presence, since the first-years will be more evenly distributed across campus. Before, South Quad residence halls have seen a high concentration of first-year students.
“The freshman class will likely be spread out more than previous years, which could lead to better class integration but possibly less class camaraderie,” Salazar said.