Restructuring Residential Life at Multnomah
Change is at hand in Multnomah University’s residential life program.
Dave Groom, the Dean of Campus Life, is helping spearhead the new living situation for students.
Earlier this year, Groom, along with women’s Resident Director Amanda Allquist, formulated a plan to improve MU’s residential life program to make it a more intentional and efficient community. The current 2011-2012 school year was thoroughly examined by Groom and the resident directors to see what parts of the residential life program needed fine-tuning.
They felt that the way students are currently divided for Multnomah’s housing situation – freshmen through seniors in the same residence halls – was not helping students connect with others in comparable stages of life and school. To help improve the situation, they decided to place students in similar collegiate contexts.
Beginning in the fall of 2012, South Aldrich, formerly an all-men’s residence hall, will be an all-women’s residence hall for freshman and sophomore students. North Aldrich will remain an all-men’s residence hall, but will only have freshmen and sophomores.
Junior and senior upperclassmen, both men and women, will live in Memorial Hall.
Yes, that means, men and women will share the same building, but it’s not co-ed dorms in the traditional sense of the word. Men and women juniors and seniors will reside in separate wings of Memorial Hall. Male junior and senior students will live on one end of Memorial while junior and senior female students will reside on the other end. Gender specific, key-card doors and a lounge will divide the two sections.
To be clear, men and women in Memorial Hall will have separate bathrooms and kitchens; the only things they’ll be sharing are the lounges.
“We wanted to think more programmatically, more intentionally about development,” Groom explained, adding, “but also not lose the uniqueness of MU’s residential life. [With this new residential life system,] we are intentionally and purposefully meeting students where they’re at.”
This new style of dorm life allows for more social growth to occur for the various stages students are in. Freshmen will all be together, allowing them to get to know each other more easily, establish relationships, and explore this new episode of life together. Sophomores, already somewhat established within MU, will be able to continue discovering college life, while also being able to help incoming freshmen acclimate to the college lifestyle. Junior and senior level students, well-established in college, will be able to cultivate existing relationships in their own living quarters.
“We are seeking to meet specific needs of students,” Groom said. “But even with this change, the heart of the MU community is not going to change. We aren’t losing something that we had that was great, but we are [now] going to be more intentional.”
The purpose of the new dorm situation is to bring about stronger community. Though there have been concerns about the changes, the student body overall is optimistic about the change.
“I’m excited for it,” said junior Jonathan Mulder. “I think it will help break down some bothersome social barriers here at MU. I’ve seen this idea used at other schools, and I think it will definitely help improve the community here at MU.”
The new memorial dorm will not be the first time that men and women have lived in the same building on campus. White Hall, the MU dorm prior to the Aldrich and Memorial Halls, housed undergraduate men and women on separate floors. It was demolished in 2007 due to weak structural issues.
–Gian Cook is a junior Journalism major.