New Freshman Hall to Promote Community, Sustainable Living
Last Thursday the Undergraduate Residential Living Committee (URLC) passed a proposal to create “Green Hall” as a new Community Based Living (CBLV) option for freshmen next year.
President of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Zachary Malter ’13 was active in creating the proposal for the hall. He came up with the idea after the WSA brainstormed ways to build upon current sustainable living efforts.
“Any freshman can elect to live there and they would work together on sustainability projects with their hallmates,” Malter said. “So it’s really about being creative and identifying sustainable ways of living together.”
The hall would join the group of other CBLV options, which include WestCo, Quiet Hall, Substance Free Hall, 200 Church, and Writing Hall. Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Fran Koerting expressed enthusiasm about the hall.
“We weren’t actively seeking additional ideas [for new housing options], but when Zach approached us and had the proposal we brought it to the Undergraduate Residential Life Committee, and the students got really excited about it,” Koerting said.
Green Hall will be listed on the ResLife website alongside other CBLVs, and incoming students will be able to indicate if they would prefer to live there. As they mark their preferences, ResLife tries to distribute freshmen evenly throughout the different dormitories and program halls.
“What freshmen are able to do is indicate one of those that they’re extremely interested in, and then as many of the other things that they’d like to that they also have an interest in,” Koerting said.
Green Hall will attract students who have expressed interest in different forms of sustainable living. Students would also adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle and engage in greener practices.
“[Some ideas for the hall are] composting, intensive recycling, sustainable eating, gardening, minimizing water and energy usage, and tracking food waste,” Koerting said.
While freshman have to specify that they want to live on Green Hall, there is no special application. However, co-chair of the URLC Andrew Trexler ’14 explained that they do have some obligation to engage in sustainable living practices.
“There’s a social contract, so to speak, in signing up for the hall,” Trexler said. “But there won’t be any additional written documents that they need to sign.”
Koerting and Malter felt that Green Hall would benefit from working with an academic department, much like the Writing Hall works with the English Department. They approached Director of the College of the Environment (COE) Barry Chernoff, who gave his support to the hall.
“It’s very similar to the Writing Floor in that there will be a connection with an academic department,” Koerting said. “[It will also have] a connection with a program house, that will help collaborate on different programs with the students.”
In addition to working with the COE, Green Hall will partner with Earth House to start sustainable initiatives on campus.
“I spoke at length with the house manager of Earth House [Maxwell Hellman ’13],” Malter said. “He was the one who brought a lot of support and ideas for how we could do collaborations with Earth House.”
Earth House resident Jessie Napier ’14 is excited about the collaboration.
“Personally, I would love to have programs between Earth House and Green Hall next year,” Napier wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “I think it’d be a great way to get incoming freshmen involved in the environmental groups on campus. I think Earth House provides an excellent space to organize projects, [like] gardening, canning, window-farming—and also acts as a hub for a lot of exciting groups.”
Because of the current popularity of Earth House, the URLC is hopeful that incoming freshmen will be enthusiastic about Green Hall.
“Right now Earth House gets the largest number of applications, more than any other program house,” Trexler said. “So we think this would be very attractive to incoming freshman.”
Green Hall is the only new addition to housing for next year, and currently there are no more plans to create new program halls. With the exception of members of the class of 2014, who were particularly enthusiastic about CBLV options, the level of interest among classes for alternative housing has remained consistent in the past few years.
“If that interest were to rise, we might look into creating others,” Koerting said. “If it stays the same the level, I think we have a good number of options for the students who are interested in a particular theme as opposed to just normal freshman housing.”
The success of Green Hall will not only depend on interest level, but also rely on factors such as the success of the hall programs and the sense of community that is fostered on the hall.
“It’s not entirely based on how many people apply,” Trexler said. “It’s based on how the year goes and how the freshmen in the hall feel that their experience was beneficial to their ResLife experience.”
Green Hall will be located in the new section of Butterfield B, enhancing the current Butterfields community. It will be an all-freshman section of the dorm and will include space for twenty students.
“[The hall] be a mixture of doubles, singles, and triples,” Koerting said. “The triples that are being built are about 300 square feet, so they’re huge and being built intentionally to be triple rooms. The [Residential Advisor] will be right on that floor, and it’ll be right near the common space so they’ll have a lounge to use for meetings.”
ResLife has already sent out emails seeking Residential Advisors for the hall.
Malter hopes that Green Hall will provide more opportunities for like-minded individuals to live with each other and contribute to the current selection of program housing.