ORL reviews housing needs
The Office of Residential Life last week began a comprehensive review to examine students' housing needs, following the final report of the Committee on the First-Year Experience, which was released in May.
"That study is the key that unlocks the implementation process," Dean of the College Lee Pelton said.
Pelton said after presenting the report's recommendations to the Board of Trustees at its meeting in June, he "received encouragement from the Board to proceed" with the recommendations.
But Pelton said until the review undertaken by ORL is complete, the "housing part of the report can't go forward."
According to Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco, the main question being addressed by ORL in the review is whether or not the College must build more beds and, if so, how many.
In order to answer these questions, Turco said ORL must gather a tremendous amount of data.
"We haven't finalized what we're going to do," Turco said.
She said she does not know how long the review will take, since only one official meeting has taken place so far between her, Associate Dean of Residential Life Bud Beatty and Pelton.
Pelton said he hopes the review will be done by summer's end.
Turco said Beatty has a list of specific research questions ORL intends to ask the members of each class to find out all the student housing information it needs.
Beatty has already interviewed some sophomores this term to solicit information from them, paying special attention to those who have chosen to live off campus, Turco said.
Beatty declined to comment.
The results of the review will determine the cost of the new cluster and where it will be located, Pelton said.
The Trustees must approve the recommendations if they incur a significant cost or include significant change to the College, Pelton said.
Besides ORL's review, Pelton's recommendations include the creation of a "mixed-class cluster," which will have more resources than other clusters, including a dean and senior faculty adviser, and additional programming space.
Another of Pelton's recommendations is to establish a faculty committee to examine ways to combine the intellectual and residential aspects of college life, according to the report. Pelton said that recommendation also cannot be enacted until ORL's review has been completed.
But he said Dean of Freshmen Peter Goldsmith is free to carry out Pelton's final recommendation of implementing the proposals of the orientation subcommittee.
Among other proposals, the subcommittee recommended that the name of the Freshman Office be changed to the Office of First-Year Students and the title of the current dean be changed to Dean of First-Year Students.
Pelton said until ORL's review is finished everything else is on hold. Pelton's final report was the culmination of almost a year-and-a-half's work.
The report's recommendations called for freshmen to live in three primarily freshmen residence clusters with Senior Faculty Fellows living nearby. It also suggested freshmen be housed according to their English 5 and freshman seminar classes.
The Senior Faculty Fellow would help coordinate the programming of the cluster in an attempt to bring more of the intellectual life of the College into students' dormitories.
As a result of the primarily freshman residence halls, upperclass students would be able to affiliate with one cluster and live in that cluster for the rest of their College careers.
But after receiving input on his recommendations, Pelton said students seemed willing to forgo housing stability in order to maintain mixed-class dorms.
Before formulating his final recommendations, Pelton led a "town meeting" in January to discuss the proposals with members of the Dartmouth community.
In his final report, Pelton wrote that he also hosted various student groups in his home for "informal dinners-discussion," to gain more input.