Freshmen dorms offer diverse options and amenities

by Michael Qian | 8/21/15 6:28pm

by Katelyn Jones / The Dartmouth

Congratulations! In just a few short weeks, you’ll be getting meals with other freshmen in Collis, deciding which classes to take and learning all of our unique lingo. But before all of that really begins, you’ll have to move into your first college dorm. Which ones are the best? Where are they located? Where will the parties be? Will my room be small?

You’ll decide most of these answers on your own. But here at The Dartmouth, we have a few pieces of information and some honest thoughts that might help. We know that coming to college can be an intimidating transition from high school, and that you probably have a lot of questions left unanswered. Hopefully this guide will make you feel just a little more ready to start the next four years of your life. Welcome to Dartmouth.

Before we get into the specifics, here’s a quick overview. Approximately one third of the class lives in all first-year clusters, which include the Choates and the River clusters. The remainder of the freshmen class lives on first-year floors in mixed class housing clusters: Russell Sage Hall, East Wheelock and McLaughlin. Finally, freshmen can live in living learning communities — residential spaces that aim to unite students around shared interests. Starting with the Class of 2019, students will remain members of their original residential communities even after freshmen year.

The River

Located at the far western end of campus beyond the Tuck School of Business, the River is known for facilitating tight-knit freshmen floors because of its more remote location. Although somewhat distant from the center of campus, students enjoy the cluster’s proximity to the Connecticut River during warmer days in Hanover. For freshmen, the cluster is broken down into the all first-year French Hall and Judge Hall, which sleep about 180 people total.

Buildings in cluster: French, Judge, Channing Cox and Maxwell

Years constructed: French and Judge (1960), Channing Cox and Maxwell (1982).

Room types: Singles, two-room doubles, three-room doubles and upperclassmen apartments.

Distance from: Baker-Berry Library (0.3 miles), Class of 1953 Commons (0.3 miles), Alumni Gym (0.6 miles)

Selling point: just a short walk away from the Connecticut River


Known for its new appearance and spacious, hotel-like accommodations, the McLaughlin cluster sits on the north side of campus by Sudikoff Hall. Home to approximately 340 students from all class years, the cluster also boasts one of the largest residential social spaces on campus — Occom Commons. McLaughlin is named in honor of the College’s 14th president, David McLaughlin ’54 Tu’55. Though relatively far from the campus’s main food offerings, students generally have few complaints about the dorm’s amenities.

Year constructed: 2004

Buildings in cluster: Berry, Bildner, Rauner, Byrne II, Thomas and Goldstein.

Room types: singles, two-room doubles and upperclassmen suites

Distance from: Baker-Berry Library (0.2 miles), Class of 1953 Commons (0.5 miles), Alumni Gym (0.5 miles)

Selling points: square footage and newly built rooms

The Choates

Located just behind Webster Ave — a street otherwise known as “Frat Row” — the Choates cluster houses approximately 300 first-year students. Glass walkways connect the individual buildings, and the dorm also features one of Dartmouth’s only sand volleyball courts. Cutter-Shabazz affinity house and the Sustainable Living Center are also just a short walk away.

Years constructed: 1956-58

Buildings in cluster: Bissell, Brown, Cohen and Little.

Room types: One-room singles and doubles, arranged in eight-student suites

Distance from: Baker-Berry Library (0.2 miles), Class of 1953 Commons (0.4 miles), Alumni Gym (0.6 miles)

Pronunciation: Rhymes with “boats.”

Selling points: sand volleyball court

East Wheelock

Stereotypically known as a haven for the most academically inclined students, East Wheelock is located across from the Alumni Gym. But perhaps more accurately, the cluster is known to foster a close sense of community. Its well-stocked snack bar — an amenity unique to East Wheelock — probably helps by supplying students with late-night candy and savory bites.

“East Wheezy,” as it is affectionately called, is also the closest freshmen dorm to the gym, a fact that many residents cherish during the harsh winter months. Upperclassmen also choose to return to the cluster for its spacious rooms, large common areas and clean, new appearance. East Wheelock houses over 300 students total.

Buildings in cluster: Andres, Zimmerman, Morton, McCulloch and the Ledyard Apartments.

Years constructed: Andres, Morton and Zimmerman (1985-87), McCulloch (1999-2000), Ledyard Apartments (1921).

Room types: mostly suite-style, with single or double rooms sharing a living area and a full bath.

Distance from: Baker-Berry Library (0.5 miles), Class of 1953 Commons (0.4 miles), Alumni Gym (less than 0.1 miles).

Selling points: snack bar and spacious rooms.

Russell Sage

Infamous for its stereotype as a “ragey” dorm, Russell Sage is located on Tuck Drive, just by Silsby Hall. Featuring two residential social spaces — the Cellar and the Hyphen — the dorm is sure to provide a great place for students to meet each other. Although technically part of a cluster that includes Butterfield and the nearby Fahey-McLane dorms, the Russell Sage building warrants its own section because of its unique identity and charm. Russell Sage Hall will be home to about 120 freshmen.

Year constructed: Russell Sage Hall (1923)

Room types: singles, two-room doubles and two-room triples.

Distance from: Baker-Berry Library (0.1 miles), Class of 1953 Commons (0.2 miles), Alumni Gym (0.4) miles

Selling points: central location and renovated social spaces


Home to around 200 students of all years, Fahey-McLane Hall is known for being one of the nicest dorms on campus. Although they are individual dorms by name, Fahey and McLane are connected by a set of common rooms on each floor and essentially function as a single building. Upperclassmen often return to Fahey-McLane for its great location, new amenities and spacious rooms.

Year constructed: 2002

Room types: Singles, two-room doubles and triples upperclassmen suites.

Distance from: Baker-Berry Library (0.2 miles), Class of 1953 Commons (0.2 miles), Alumni Gym (0.5 miles)

Selling points: clean dorm rooms and a central location

Living-Learning Communities

The newest addition to Dartmouth’s freshmen dorm options, living-learning communities are residential floors and buildings intended to integrate student learning into dorm life. For the Class of 2019, students can apply to live in four different communities. East Wheelock represents one option. The Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network in Residence community, located in New Hampshire Hall, connects students interested in innovation with technology centers. Meanwhile, the Global Village facilitates discussions about global topics and features related weekly programming. The community occupies select floors in the McLaughlin cluster. Finally, the Triangle House aims to foster a strong sense of community among LGBTQ+ students and develop knowledge about related histories.

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