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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Farewell to the Fayes: Embracing Transformation in First-Year Dorms at Dartmouth

One writer, along with a member of the Data Visualization team, gauges students’ reactions to the renovation of the Fayerweather Halls.

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Standing tall behind Dartmouth Hall is a row of three brick buildings that serve as South House freshman year housing — the Fayerweather residence halls. Colloquially known as North Faye, Mid Faye and South Faye, the trio of buildings have long been a cornerstone of first-year bonding at Dartmouth, fostering a sense of community that transcends their physical structure. Although these buildings are not connected above ground, they are linked through a shared basement — commonly referred to as the “Fayesment” — which facilitates interaction between residents of different buildings. More than just living spaces, the Fayes have become synonymous with tight-knit connections and shared experiences among first-year residents. 

Taylor Kenison ’25, who lived in the Fayes before serving as an undergraduate advisor there, said she met her “closest friends that I still have to this day” in the Fayes as a first-year.

“The buildings need to have some renovations done, there’s no question about that,” Kenison said. “But I do hope that they will continue to carry on that charm and community once [they are] redone … The Fayes are the epitome of what the Dartmouth freshman experience is.” 

The upcoming renovations will connect the three buildings aboveground and eliminate the interconnected basement, which currently holds a reputation as a prime gathering spot for freshmen — residents and non-residents alike. 

“You get to have this freshman-exclusive place outside of Greek spaces, which makes it a little more open and more inclusive,” current Fayes resident Jacob Markman ’27 said.

According to South House senator Ian McKenna ’27, who is a current Fayes resident, the renovations are an unfortunate but necessary change. 

“My older siblings all lived in the Fayes, so I was really excited to [live] there,” McKenna said. “I think it’s a bummer that [freshmen] aren’t going to be able to experience it for the next few years, but I think it’s going to be worth it. The renovations are going to make it a much nicer space.”

The allure of the Fayes is particularly pronounced during the first-year frat ban — which lasts from the beginning of fall term to noon on November 1, according to past coverage by The Dartmouth — when alternative social spaces may be scarce. With the Fayes no longer an option for gathering next year, however, it’s likely that members of the Class of 2028 will look for other communal locations during the frat ban. 

“I’m sure the freshman will find someplace else to gather,” Kenison said. “I don’t know what it will look like. Hopefully, they’ll find another space that can help replicate what the Fayes did for freshmen.”

In the absence of the Fayes, South House members of the Class of 2028 will live in residence halls that currently house upperclassmen, including Topliff Hall and Mid Massachusetts Hall, according to past coverage by The Dartmouth. 

With the renovations approaching, The Dartmouth surveyed current undergraduates on their views on the College’s decision to renovate the Fayes. Of those surveyed, approximately half of the Class of 2027 and a majority of the upperclassmen in South House did not think the College’s current plan was fair. Some students expressed concern over freshmen and upperclassmen sharing the same space, especially while freshmen acclimate to college life.

“It’s definitely tough, especially when you’re trying to create a community,” Kenison said. “Freshman dorms on campus really create a safe space for you to make friends.”

Having freshman-exclusive spaces in residential buildings can be helpful when students are first getting adjusted to Dartmouth life. However, living in close proximity to upperclassmen can also offer distinct advantages for freshmen, Markman said. For example, upperclassmen can provide guidance and insights to help freshmen ease their transition into college life. 

“My mom went here, and she lived in multi-grade housing,” Markman said. “Her best friend from when she was a freshman was a junior, and they eventually lived in the same apartment. They’re still best friends today.”

Allocating more housing to freshmen also means that many upperclassmen in South House may be relocated to off-campus housing at Summit on Juniper. A plurality of students surveyed did not seem to view this as a major concern, expressing their support for future residence hall renovations — even if they meant similar displacements. However, some students felt the relocation could result in significant logistical concerns for upperclassmen living at Summit.

“If you’re being forced to [live at] Summit, you’re getting forced off campus,” Markman said. “A lot of people, especially sophomores, probably won’t have cars. On campus, you’re close to where you live, you can get back on your own and you don’t have to rely on someone else to drive you.”

Most importantly, students have expressed concerns over transportation accessibility. Students who do not have access to a car must rely on a bus service that runs on 30-minute and hourly intervals between Summit and campus, which can limit the flexibility of student schedules. 

“We at DSG have definitely heard a lot of student concerns about how far away the Summit housing is, especially given the inconvenience of the timing of the transportation,” McKenna said. “During on nights, for example, you’d have to leave [campus] by 2 a.m.” 

Despite these concerns, many students have also expressed excitement about the forthcoming transformation of the Fayes. Eighty-four percent of students surveyed were pleased, to some extent, that the College is taking action when it comes to residence hall renovations. Many students believe the renovation will positively impact the residence halls’ atmosphere and facilities, enhancing the freshman experience and bringing the community closer together.

Even as the renovations improve the Fayes, the student experience on campus — particularly for freshmen — is likely to change. The Fayes have long been viewed as a Dartmouth institution, symbolizing community, friendship and the quintessential college experience.

“I think the Fayes really represent the ethos of Dartmouth, which is people who are very social and people who like to have fun, but also people who are driven and care about their academics, studying together and working hard together,” McKenna said. “But it’s the people that make the place.”

Methodology Notes:

From April 20 to April 25, The Dartmouth fielded an online survey of Dartmouth students on their opinions about the College’s admissions process. The survey was sent to 4,447 undergraduate students through their school email addresses. Three hundred and twenty-five responses were recorded, resulting in a 7.3% response rate. All data reflected in the article’s text is approximate. Using administrative data from the College’s Office of Institutional Research, responses were weighted by class year, gender and race/ethnicity. Weighting was done through iterative post-stratification (raking). Survey results have a margin of error ± 5.1 percentage points.