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Dear Students,

We are writing to solicit your feedback on one of the most important aspects of your life at Middlebury. A defining characteristic of student life at Middlebury is living as a member of a small, residential community.  This community is where you study, play, learn, and think; this community is your home.

Middlebury offers a great variety of housing options—residence-hall singles or doubles, two-room doubles, sink-mates, suites, apartments, townhouses, mods, small blocks, large blocks, superblocks, houses, academic-interest houses, language houses, and social houses.

Each year we try to improve housing offerings while balancing student requests with the needs of the College. One innovation we will adopt next year will be to offer all Room Draw housing, including regular doubles, as all gender. This option allows two students to share a double room regardless of the students’ gender. Another new offering will involve trying the SuperBlock Program in a more focused community of small, theme houses in the Mods area. We have engaged the SGA, Community Council, and a number of students on campus for their opinions and advice about these programs and housing issues in general. We would like to hear from more students, to learn more about your ideas and what is important to you.

We know that your living arrangements play an important role in your life at Middlebury.  In order to improve our systems and facilities, we are asking for your feedback. Please share what you think, your suggestions for improvements, and your ideas for new offerings by posting a comment here. (To leave a comment, click on “comments” directly beneath the post title.)

We have also created a new web form just for this purpose. It can be found on the website for Undergraduate Housing.

The best way for students to stay informed on housing processes and deadlines is to carefully read e-mails received from Residential Student Coordinator Karin Hall-Kolts and to use the Undergraduate Housing website.

Thank you for your attention. Please post your comments here and/or fill out the form on the Undergraduate Housing website.

Best,

Shirley M. Collado
Dean of the College

Douglas Adams
Associate Dean of Students

20 Responses to “Message to Students about Housing”

  1. Andy Hyatt says:

    Dean Collado,

    First off, thanks for taking the opportunity to reach out to Middlebury students for our feedback on such an important issue to us. I know students really appreciate the chance to get involved in issues like this.

    I would just like to comment on one aspect of your plan, regarding a “more focused community” of superblocks in the mods area. I am currently a member of “Katsuhama,” a superblock centered around traditional Japanese cooking. About three to four times a semester, we cook traditional Japanese meals like ramen soup or chicken katsu, which are open to anyone in the college community who wants a free hot and delicious meal. We bring together a real diversity of students on campus, and serve around 30 people per night. So far, it’s been a lot of fun, and we feel like we’ve managed to meet the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

    Currently we are located on the second floor of Voter, in an 8 person suite with a new kitchen. This location has served our needs perfectly, both in that the kitchen is big enough (although barely) for what we need, and the location is so central that it is very easy for anyone on campus to come to our dinners. With all due respect, a move to the mods would be very detrimental to us and other superblocks. First of all, placing us so far out of the way makes it much less likely that we would be able to engage the broader campus community as we do now. It’s easy to convince 30 people to come to Voter to get food, but it would be much more difficult to convince them to trek all the way out to the mods. Secondly, the facilities out there are obviously not nearly as good as we have here, hampering our ability to successfully carry out our mission. Thirdly, I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for any existing and potential superblocks to recruit members knowing they will have to live in the mods. The mods, quite frankly, area desirable option for a small segment of the students on campus, and the people who are interested in throwing huge parties at the mods are probably not the same people who would want to cook Japanese food. I know we’d like to continue with our superblock next year, but I don’t think it would be worth it enough for me to live in the mods for my senior year.

    Finally, I really think that you should consult the current superblocks about the proposed changes before such changes are made. We are in the best position to tell you how such a move would affect us, and how we think the policy would play out. I know the members of my superblock would be more than happy to meet with you, and I’m sure other blocks would feel the same way. Uprooting the superblocks to the mods would certainly be a big change, and I believe most superblock members would not support it.

    Thank you so much for your time,
    Andy Hyatt ’12

  2. Adam says:

    The housing system is the worst part of Middlebury. The first, and most simple, change that needs to be instituted is a live draw for juniors/seniors. As it currently stands if you have a group of more than 4 people who want to live together you will be unlikely to actually attempt to live together. The reason for this is that if you try and fail there will be a subset of your group that is left out in the cold to fend for themselves in the singles/doubles draw. For example, say a group of 6 goes for Turner house. They don’t get it. They have an Atwater suite as their second choice, but Atwater suites only house 4 people. Now 2 people from the original 6 can’t live with the group. The logical solution is that those 2 people would then be able to find 2 other people and go for their own 4 person block/suite. Instead the current system forces those 2 students to wait until singles/doubles draw. The result is that students are unwilling to enter into groups of more than 4. With a live draw, you would be able to see what your number is capable of getting and you would be able to reassess the situation as you go. You wouldn’t need to enter into all the guess work that is currently necessary. If you don’t want to organize a giant in person event, then a live draw could still be computerized, it could be 2 months long. Open housing registration to the first 5 numbers on day 1, then 5-10 on day 2, then 10-15 on day 3, then 15-25 on day 4, then 25-35 on day 5, then 35-45 on day 6, then 45-60 on day 7 and so on. You should open to a greater and greater number of students as you go to reflect the growing number of best available housing. That is, at first there are a very small number of choice houses/suites (e.g. 5-person Atwater and Turner house) that people are going for. When those are gone, people are going for Atwater/Laforce (there are 50 or so of these). Eventually people will be going for singles (of which there are 100s). Also, low numbered people will take higher numbered people out of the draw into suites. It wouldn’t be too hard to look at the past few years and see how many choice houses/suites there are that go before Atwater/Laforce. This will help you decide where the cut off is to move from only opening to 5 students per day to 10 students per day. You could even make the decision live, as you see spaces fill in the limited availability housing you could open to more people each day. Personally, I think an in person event would be better, but it might be difficult to organize.

    A second issue is that people don’t always live in their assigned housing. If you are popular enough then you can get an Atwater suite regardless of your number. There are plenty of people who are not planning on using their relatively low numbers and so enter into suites that they have no intention of actually living in just so that the suite can end up with their friends rather than with the people it was supposed to end up with. I don’t know what you want to do about this, but don’t kid yourself that it doesn’t happen.

    Making the mods into small super blocks is a silly and thinly veiled attempt to discourage partying. This is a college. We already party far less than college students elsewhere. We are already under a great deal of stress. We don’t need more potluck dinners. In the words of Tim Spears when I interviewed him my freshman year for the Campus “A little debauchery is alright”.

    Moving away from junior/senior housing, I would like to take this opportunity to complain briefly about my freshman housing experience. I was housed in non-freshman housing because my class was too big. Had I known that this was going to happen, I would have either not come to Middlebury, or delayed matriculation for a year. You housed us in a random hodgepodge of rooms and gave us no FYC (technically you did, but he didn’t start until after classes had started, he didn’t do anything with us, he didn’t live on my hall, and he didn’t know what he was doing). We did not have any of the typical freshman bonding experiences, and were left to fend for ourselves. At least with Febs you make a big deal about trying to make all the Febs know each other. The displaced freshmen of my year were just as on our own as any Feb, but with none of the support.

  3. Confused says:

    I’ve looked and looked, but I can find no web form on the Undergraduate Housing website. Am I missing something? Can someone give me a direct link? Or is it just not yet online?

  4. Amelia Linsky says:

    Hear, hear to Andy’s comment! I spend a lot of time at Katsuhama even though I don’t live there. Andy has articulated perfectly how the location and amenities of Voter serve the mission of their superblock much better than the mods could.
    As for gender-blind housing, I think it’s about time that Middlebury moved on from old-fashioned hetero-normative policies. Simply by virtue of living without our parents/guardians, on this campus we students have the opportunity to make all the decisions that so concern our elders (drinking, sex, drugs). We might as well be entrusted with this decision too. As Adam pointed out, if students really want to have a particular housing arrangement, they will probably find a way to do it. I have faith that this new housing policy will help all students feel more comfortable, and it will not significantly change the amount of distracting drama that we deal with in our daily lives.
    Finally, the “web form” is not immediately apparent on the link to Undergraduate Housing. In fact, I couldn’t find it. Can you please make it more accessible?

  5. Ian says:

    I think the live draw that Adam described would solve much of the frustration involved in junior/senior housing draw.

    Additionally, I want to add my sentiment that no one, no matter how terrible their number is, should be unable to live near a friend. There should not be such a limited number of 4-person and 3-person blocks — in fact, there should be NO limit whatsoever. Living in a suite with friends should be a luxury granted only to those lucky enough to draw a very low number. Living near a friend anywhere in general should NOT be a luxury. The solution to this is to have no pre-crafted blocks (besides suites, of course). Every 4-person/3-person block application will then be granted a series of rooms (or a suite if the number is good enough) in a dorm or house. After that’s all sorted out, people can apply for doubles, and after that, singles. It’s like that activity we all did in science class, where you have big rocks and little rocks. If you put the little rocks in the glass first, the big rocks can’t fit. If you put the big rocks in first, the little rocks then fill all the little gaps, and everything works out.

    As for gender neutral housing, it’s a good idea and it’s about time. However, the rumors I’ve heard about getting rid of all single-sex hallways is not a good idea. I was on an all-male hallway freshman year, and it was my most enjoyable residential experience at Midd so far (and I’m now a Junior). I would recommend maintaining at least a few hallways as single-sex, so that people will at least have the option to live in the company of whichever gender they choose.

  6. Steve says:

    Adam knows what he’s talking about–listen to his comments. I think the benefits of leaving the mods in the main general draw were summed up nicely in a middblog article last year by ‘Matt’:

    “I, however, am more concerned about the latter–Res Life placing “quieter groups” in the mods. The old Mods may have been better for the college. I for one would rather have more parties happen:

    - in one place big and open enough that public safety can monitor and break it up if necessary (unlike 100 small gatherings behind closed doors)
    - in one place big and open enough that students from different parts of campus can find it and feel comfortable without having an “in” (unlike for 100 small gatherings, where people already know each other)
    - as far away from Otter Creek as possible
    - as far away from town and potential noise complaints as possible”

    http://midd-blog.com/2010/03/23/re-housing-debacle/

    If students want their mod-a-palooza, let it happen slightly removed from the rest of campus. It’s a good situation.

  7. John says:

    I’m really concerned that this debate is happening again. What Adam posted is very good and new, but the fact that Karin is trying to put quiet tame blocks in the mods again is ridiculous. We went through this debate last year, and with massive support from the students, the mods which were originally given to superblocks were put back into the Senior draw.

    So here’s my proposal to the administration:
    Stop trying to control and destroy the college social scene, it’s weak enough as is. This debate was beaten to death last year, and the results were clear – leave the mods for seniors. Do not start this again.

    As for the live draw, this would solve almost every other housing issue. Adam said it much better than i can.

  8. Louis Tiemann says:

    I second Adam’s comments on a live draw for juniors/seniors and the Mods.

  9. Matt says:

    I think housing would be a lot easier understood and questions more easily answered if a new Residential Student Coordinator was appointed instead of Karin Hall-Kolts. I know I am not the only one who has tried to contact Ms. Hall-Kolts for further clarification (beyond what the website gives for information) and has either been ignored or told they would be gotten back to, with no avail, or in general just treated rudely. Housing is probably the biggest issue on campus and it would help to have a Residential Student Coordinator who was a bit more intuned with the thoughts and feelings of the students. I understand she has one of the hardest jobs on campus and not everyone is going to be happy with her at all times, but she has to understand how important housing is to the students here. Perhaps some kind of committee could be formed that allows students to sit in on the advisory board meetings or other important meetings about how housing is decided and be able to give feedback from a student point of view. If this sort of program already exists, then I appologize for my own ignorance. In any case, students deserve more openness about the process and the decency of some common courtesy from this part of the administration.

  10. Topher Hunt says:

    I have gotten a mediocre lot on most housing draws and lived in a double for three years. I haven’t been satisfied with the amount of control I had over my housing assignments, but at the same time I have not allowed that to inflect my social scene nor my wider experience at Middlebury.

    I’m disappointed to see some acrid comments on this blog. I don’t believe that constructive changes come about by making urgent statements such as suggesting that the administration is trying to “destroy” social life, or starting a response by saying that housing is the “worst part” of the Middlebury experience. The college can’t prioritize fully equitable housing opportunities if it is to be an adaptable, growing institution, and some people will always have poor luck.

    That’s not to say that the housing system is ideal. I don’t think it can be ideal without more transparency and more invitations to input (formal and informal) into the process of housing selection, as the above comments also call for.

    I understand that the housing system is a difficult and stressful process for staff, not just students. I’m surprised that the administration hasn’t found ways to involve students in this selection process which take some of the load off of staff, while also giving students more of a voice in shaping the process for the future.

  11. Chris '13 says:

    I agree with Adam.

    To limit superblock housing to the mods is a thinly veiled attempt at limiting the partying that goes on there. But Steve clearly demonstrates why the mods should be a place where the college should encourage the partying as it provides an isolated area far from the public that pubic safety can control.

    a junior/senior live draw would alleviate many of the housing stresses and confusion and would help to solve the issue of students “giving” their numbers to others.

    I basically agree with all of the comments he brought up.

    No freshman should be isolated, and orientation/ the administration should limit this occurrence and if it happens more support should be given.

    and to elaborate on Topher’s ideas, I think it would be great if a student, or group of students, were involved in the housing selection process so that someone, the student, would have an understanding of all that occurs outside of what the administration thinks and so false perceptions on behalf of both parties could be righted.

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  15. Firstname says:

    It can be found on the website for Undergraduate Housing. I hope to meet you during your time at Middlebury. I know students really appreciate the chance to get involved in issues like this. You should open to a greater and greater number of students as you go to reflect the growing number of best available housing. If you are popular enough then you can get an Atwater suite regardless of your number. There are plenty of people who are not planning on using their relatively low numbers and so enter into suites that they have no intention of actually living in just so that the suite can end up with their friends rather than with the people it was supposed to end up with. We already party far less than college students elsewhere. We are already under a great deal of stress. At least with Febs you make a big deal about trying to make all the Febs know each other. Andy has articulated perfectly how the location and amenities of Voter serve the mission of their superblock much better than the mods could. We might as well be entrusted with this decision too. Living in a suite with friends should be a luxury granted only to those lucky enough to draw a very low number. Living near a friend anywhere in general should NOT be a luxury. The old Mods may have been better for the college. Adam said it much better than i can. I know I am not the only one who has tried to contact Ms. Housing is probably the biggest issue on campus and it would help to have a Residential Student Coordinator who was a bit more intuned with the thoughts and feelings of the students. Perhaps some kind of committee could be formed that allows students to sit in on the advisory board meetings or other important meetings about how housing is decided and be able to give feedback from a student point of view. But Steve clearly demonstrates why the mods should be a place where the college should encourage the partying as it provides an isolated area far from the public that pubic safety can control. Certain two ideas in this article are undoubtedly the finest we have all had.edu Create a BlogSearch BlogsLog in .Fascinating topic

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