In the 2015-2016 academic year, housing will have changed once again on Emory’s campus. The Complex, a combination of Hopkins, Smith and Thomas residence halls will be housing freshmen. Few Hall and Evans Hall (“Fevans”) will accommodate sophomores as well as a currently unknown number of sorority and fraternity members, who will have the option of living in Greek-themed floors in Evans. McTyeire Hall, a dorm next to the DUC, will be demolished, and Clifton Tower will no longer be an option for Emory housing altogether.
We at the Wheel disagree with some of the coming changes to undergraduate, on-campus housing, particularly with Fevans ceasing to be used as a freshman dorm, which constitutes a disruption of the University’s Freshman Quad.
For years, we’ve watched the University construct building after building in order to create the Freshman Quad, which includes Raoul, Longstreet-Means, Hamilton Holmes and Turman residence halls. We feel this will be disrupted due to these changes. The University invested in a freshman quad as part of its 2005 Campus Master Plan to foster community for incoming students, and we feel this latest change instituted by Residence Life (ResLife) has pulled back on this vision.
[quote_box name=””]We feel that this sense of home will be harder to attain for freshmen living in Complex.[/quote_box]
The goal of the Freshman Quad is to create a tight-knit freshmen community. Many freshmen come into the University knowing little about their surroundings, seeking friends, community and a sense of home.
While we recognize that residence halls such as Dobbs and Alabama also house freshmen and are not part of the Freshman Quad, Complex is further than those two halls (especially to freshmen), and the other residence halls are bonded by the Dobbs University Center (DUC).
Especially as the University readies to create a new Campus Life Center that will replace and renovate the DUC and create more a bond throughout campus, we think it’s critical that freshmen residence halls should be adjacent to the DUC.
We feel that this sense of home will be harder to attain for freshmen living in Complex.
Freshmen were moved due to a greater desire for organizational housing at Emory. Instead of accommodating freshmen in Fevans, the University will be allowing sophomores and Greek members who apply to live there. ResLife decided on this initiative after holding formal and informal talks with members of the Office of Student Leadership and Service (OSLS) and the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL).
The number of Greek members who will take this opportunity is still undetermined, but given the option, we feel that the University may unfairly or unintentionally be propagating a social split that already exists on campus. This encourages a greater divide between those who participate in Greek Life and those who don’t — a divide that many of us already see happening on campus due to the mere location of fraternity housing and sorority lodging.
As a residential University that offers a liberal arts education and a diverse student body, Emory should not facilitate a separation of students through its housing. Instead, and while Greek members are entitled to their own housing, the University should find ways for Greek and non-Greek members of campus to commingle, expose themselves to different values and exchange opinions and ideas.
Additionally, while Greek organizations embrace principles of communal living, the University should make the opportunity for community living equally available across different organizations.
We feel that, if members in Greek Life are allowed the opportunity to live with their peers, other organizations should also be granted the same opportunity. While there are currently some opportunities for different groups on campus to live together, such as the Spanish House, these opportunities should be granted to others, if the University truly wants to create more opportunity for organizational living.
Different academic groups, cultural groups and other student organizations should be allowed to apply to live in Evans if Greek members are also allowed to do so.
This would create an equal opportunity.
While we recognize Greek members are part of much larger organizations than other student groups, that should not be the deciding factor in creating organizational living. Even if an organization cannot fill a whole floor of a residence hall, the University should find ways to accommodate groups of students who want to live together to serve common interests. If every organization is given the same opportunity, Emory may not experience this schism between Greeks and non-Greeks, and if different organizations (both Greek and non-Greek) live in the same building, the University could foster stronger collaboration and community through mere physical proximity.
Lastly, we encourage ResLife to be more open and transparent about its housing changes, and we hope the University reaches out to and welcomes different student groups into its plans for organizational living. Emory Residence Life is such an important part of Emory and we should treat it with the importance that it plays in the lives of Emory students.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.