We here at Flyby recently heard that you have announced plans to change your current housing system to resemble more closely the residential housing system that schools like Harvard and Yale employ. After that crushing defeat a few weeks ago by our seemingly unstoppable football team, who could blame you for trying to make yourself more like us?
Be warned, Dartmouth: residential housing is one of the best configurations possible in undergraduate housing, but if the lines are not drawn clearly and effectively, the end result will be disastrous. Here are some things you could learn from Harvard:
Do: Make a big deal about this housing process
Harvard is notorious for our Housing Day celebration, which pretty much puts us on par with Hogwarts (I’m pretty sure one of our alumni has a sorting hat stowed away in their garage). If you make the process laden with pomp and circumstance, the excitement from its kickoff will carry over and become a large part of the appeal of the residential system.
Don’t: Pretend all houses are created equal
Students do not need to be acutely aware of that some houses are clearly better than others. Make sure that you highlight the best parts of the various houses so that students have something to look forward to. They can discover the rat problems, cockroach legions and drafty rooms when the time comes for it.
Do: Make an effort to include those students who reside in off-campus housing
Our housing system makes it so that the majority of our upperclassmen choose to remain in their houses through to graduation, but the abundance of alternative housing options for Dartmouth undergraduates presents a different environment.
Don’t: Be annoying about it
If students don’t want to participate in housing activities, breathing down their neck about it injects the entire experience with negativity. Some students won’t want to be part of their assigned housing communities, and that’s okay.
Do: Make sure you bolster social spaces in all of the current housing options
This is probably one of the most polarizing issues Harvard is facing now: there’s an overabundance of study spaces, but not enough spaces for students to chill and get #turnt.
Don’t: Fall into the trap of creating housing bubbles
Community is important, but if students find themselves trapped socializing with only the people inside of their houses, you are removing a chance for greater social development. Interaction between houses is imperative.
At the end of the day, creating a residential housing system is hard work. But you’re clearly getting advice from the school who's done the best with the system so far. (We don’t like to talk about our counterpart. They think they’ve got housing down to a science, but that’s only true if you’re in the market for a good dog kennel.)
Good luck, Dartmouth.