Sue Brown, Resident Dean of Freshmen, Elm Yard
If you are an incoming freshman, first of all let me congratulate you on your accomplishment! Here at the Freshman Dean’s Office, we are very excited to meet you in August. You are probably engaged in one of a variety of activities (or several, as the case may be). You are working, traveling, backpacking through the wilderness (and likely not reading this blog), or just hanging out and gearing up for the big move. It’s an exciting time.
You probably aren’t really wondering what we are doing in the FDO. Who are we anyway? Well, at our helm is the Dean of Freshmen Tom Dingman. There are four Resident Deans who oversee roughly 60 proctors. All of us live in residence with or very close to students. We have a fantastic Director of Freshman Programming (Katie Steele), an outstanding Department Administrator (Sheila Coveney) and a thoroughly amazing support staff (Julie Berenzweig, Brandon Edwards, Mary Lincoln, and Chrissy Spakoski). We hope you’ll come by and meet us in the fall!
So, what are we doing? Well, believe it or not, we are getting to know you. Most of the FDO is busy preparing in a variety of ways for your arrival. The four Resident Deans are housing you with your future roommates. You may or may not know this, but we do nearly all of it by hand. The only random bit is which dean you’ll work with (which puts you into either Elm, Ivy, Crimson, or Oak Yard). After that, we go through all the applications individually and match you based on a number of factors including the preferences you indicated on your housing applications. This process takes several weeks in the summer. Each of us has 400-450 students to fit into the spaces in each Yard (which are all very different!). In the end, we build entryways that reflect in some way or other the diversity of the freshman class. We’ll be finishing up and sending out your housing assignments next week!
How do we do this? Well, I can’t give away all of our secrets, and I can’t speak for the others, but I can share a little about how I do it. First I house the women and then the men. Each of you indicated your preferences for social and neatness levels in your suite, as well as how many students you would like to live with. This gives me a broad sorting mechanism. I then read through each application and note your interests and musical tastes and study your essay very carefully. Do you like art museums and coffee? Perhaps I’ll find someone from another country who also likes art museums and coffee to go with you. Do you like Broadway show tunes and country music? Maybe your roommate will, too. Do you have an adventurous spirit and a quirky sense of humor? Maybe your roommate will will have spent a gap year in Southeast Asia and want to write for the Lampoon. Do you like video games/not like video games? Are you particular about your bedtime? Do you want social roommates who hope to use the room to study and relax, while they socialize outside the dorm? These are just some of the many, many things that get taken into consideration when we match you.
Here’s what it looks like when we’re in the thick of it (imagine a very large game of Concentration):
In matching this way, we hope you’ll teach each other and share your life stories with each other. We hope you will broaden each other’s horizons and support each other. We hope you will be open to each other’s differences as you seek out your commonalities. Ultimately, we hope that you and your roommates will strive to enrich each other’s lives. This is what you tell us you are eager to experience.