April 21, 2015

Nine houses to be “retired” after opening of Campus North

Five residence halls—Blackstone, Breckinridge, Broadview, Maclean, and New Grad—will close after the 2015–2016 school year. The houses of these dorms will be moved into the new Campus North Residence Hall.

This news follows the earlier announcement that after the 2015–2016 school year, New Grad will become the new Harris School of Public Policy building and be renamed the Keller Center.

The University’s provided FAQ states that the dorm closures are part of an overall plan for “strengthening the Resident Master model and housing more College students closer to campus.”

According to an e-mail from Dean of the College John Boyer and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Karen Warren Coleman, the nine houses currently in those halls—Blackstone, Breckinridge, Henderson, Maclean, Midway, Palmer, Talbot, Tufts, and Wick—will have their names retired. Eight new houses will be created in Campus North, and students in each affected house will have the opportunity to move as a community into the new residence hall.

As for how the nine affected houses will be converted into eight, University spokesperson Jeremy Manier said, “There is precedent for merging house communities. The process in this case is still under development.”

For Hadiya Hewitt, a first-year from Wick House in Broadview, the announcement was like a “slap in the face,” especially because the house will be losing its name.

Hewitt also fears that the move will be detrimental to Wick’s house culture. “A lot of elements of our house culture…[are] predicated on the fact that we’re so far from campus,” she said. “That’s just the biggest fear I have, that the house culture that the people in this house have worked really hard to create and cultivate and protect—it’s going to die.”

Students have already created a Facebook group and listhost in order to coordinate protests against the closures and name changes. Wick House, for example, may see if they can put up money to save their name.

Manier stated that the University is still committed to building community. “That’s one reason why we incorporated a long lead time for this transition, so students can begin making plans for the fall of 2016, including moving as communities to new houses if they choose,” he said.

College Housing leaders have met with Blackstone, Breckinridge, and Maclean already to answer questions about the move, and will continue to meet with the other affected dorms through April 26.