North Park House to move to McLaughlin Cluster

The College hopes to increase the number of students in North Park House and will use the vacated dorms for students on the fall housing waitlist.

by Andrew Sasser | 8/13/21 5:05am

by Angelina Scarlotta / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

As most students return to living on campus for the fall term, many North Park House students will find themselves living in new dorms this year. According to associate dean of residential life and residential education director Michael Wooten, all students living in North Park student housing will be living in the McLaughlin cluster beginning this fall. The house is moving from its former location in Ripley, Woodward and Smith halls located near East Wheelock Street.  

According to Wooten, the primary reason for the decision to move North Park to McLaughlin was to increase the size of the house community to be comparable to the five other houses — Allen, East Wheelock, School, South and West Houses. He added that those other houses each have at least twice as many students as North Park does. 

“Because North Park was so much smaller than the other houses, it made it hard for members of that house to feel like they were having an equal experience,” Wooten said. “In the past, this made it harder for North Park to field intramural teams or bring in guest speakers, as they had a smaller budget than the other houses.”

Wooten added that in addition to creating more bed space for North Park residents, McLaughlin also has more single occupancy rooms and social study spaces than Ripley, Woodward and Smith halls have available. However, he added that some students have voiced concerns about being located farther away from the Alumni Gymnasium, Leverone Fieldhouse and other athletic facilities.

Student feedback on the decision to move to McLaughlin has largely been positive. Maeen Arslan ’23 said that she was “surprised” to hear about the decision to move the house, but that she was happy to hear about the move, as she felt that Ripley, Woodward and Smith were not the “nicest” dorms on campus.

“I lived in Woodward last winter, and having lived in McLaughlin my freshman year those buildings felt much nicer,” Arslan said. “There were a lot of open pipes and other things like that in Woodward.”

Grace Lu ’23 said that she supports North Park’s move to McLaughlin since she feels that the dorms there have a more “modern vibe” to them. She added that when she served as an undergraduate advisor in Smith last fall, some of her residents had issues with heating and flooding in the bathrooms.

“Another nice thing about McLaughlin is that each floor of each dorm has a common room,” Lu said. “There was only one common room in all of Smith Hall, and the dorm is also pretty old.”

With North Park residents moving to McLaughlin, Wooten noted that many of the first-year living learning communities that occupied the space will be moving to other dorms on campus. He added that because it is going to “take some time” for North Park to grow to fill the McLaughlin cluster, some first year LLCs may remain in McLaughlin for the next few years. 

“We want the LLCs to spread evenly across campus and not just clustered in McLaughlin,” Wooten said. “We are just going for a less localized version of what we have been doing.”

As for Ripley, Woodward and Smith, Wooten said that those dorms will not be associated with any one house. He mentioned that some transfer students and seniors will be housed there, in addition to students that could be pulled off the housing waitlist

“With the housing crisis this year, we’re focused more on getting beds for as many students as we can and less on the house system,” Wooten said. 

As of Aug. 5, the day that fall room assignments were announced for students who have housing, the waitlist for fall housing had fallen “into the 50s,” according to an email from Wooten to students on the waitlist at the time. He added that beds will continue to open up “as we adjust for those who expected to be here but won’t be coming, and those who’ve made other housing or enrollment plans.” 

Pierce Wilson contributed reporting. 

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