Build New Residence Halls
As a residential college, Dartmouth should be able to offer on-campus housing to any student who desires it. In their forthcoming housing report, Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco and Associate Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco should recommend that the College build a new cluster of residence halls -- a recommendation the College should implement immediately.
More beds are sorely needed. Two years ago there was a Fall-term housing crunch. Last year there was a Fall-term housing crunch. This year, the College only averted another housing crises by denying some students their first-choice Dartmouth Plan.
For the past three years, the College has been trying to find stop-gap methods to avert the annual housing crisis without pausing to consider long-term solutions.
Students should never be forced to arrange their course of study around their residential situation. The major strength of the D-Plan is supposed to be its flexibility. Denying students their first-choice enrollment pattern undermines that flexibility.
One fear of building a new cluster is that the buildings will be empty in the Winter and Spring terms. There is a simple solution to this problem -- requiring freshmen and sophomores to live in on-campus housing.
This requirement would allow the College to have a steady flow of students in its residence halls. Sophomores who wanted to live in other College-recognized organizations -- like Greek houses, undergraduate societies and affinity houses -- certainly could still live in those organizations.
Requiring sophomores to live on campus would also stop the exodus of students to off-campus housing, which severely fragments the Dartmouth community.
Building new residence halls will not be cheap, and there are many academic departments clamoring for funds for buildings. While the College's first purpose is to educate, a student's living situation is crucial to their reaching their full intellectual potential.
Constructing a new cluster will allow the College to convert some of its woefully small two-room triples into two-room doubles -- making living on campus a more comfortable experience for all students. Many on-campus rooms currently would not pass a "minimum standards" for residence hall rooms, and that is clearly unacceptable.
It is entirely plausible that if Dartmouth does not quickly work to meet the need for on-campus housing, it will soon get a national reputation as a college that can not house its students and forces them to go off campus. Once Dartmouth gets such a national reputation, it will be very difficult to shake and would have a negative impact on the applicant pool.
Dartmouth's customers -- the students -- are getting a raw deal. They are sometimes forced to live in pathetically puny rooms, and sometimes aren't even allowed to be on campus when they wish. For a residential college, this situation is unacceptable.
The College has a responsibility to house all its students in reasonably comfortable rooms, and in order to fulfill this responsibility, the College must construct a new cluster of residence halls.