A new Residential Program will go into place next year as part of the Imagine Deerfield strategic plan. According to the program, underclassmen will have monthly meetings that include discussions and activities, which cover such topics as belonging, identity, leadership, and balance.
“We want students to arrive at Deerfield and feel connected right away. Our dorm life offers a perfect opportunity for such a connection,” said Assistant Dean of Students Amie Creagh. “We hope to create a shared Deerfield experience and give residential life a commonality.”
At first, the program will only apply to underclassmen. “We’ll see how the first step goes and then hone and tinker in order to enhance and expand the program to upperclassmen,” said Ms. Creagh. “We want to keep it as effective as possible.”
The quest for more consistency has inspired some skeptical sentiments towards the program. Some have expressed fears that dorms will become too uniform and will lose their individual characters. However, the Residential Committee in charge of designing and implementing the program intends to preserve the autonomy of faculty residents while ensuring that a strong support system is closely and reliably integrated with residential life.
In response to concerns that the meetings will take up too much time in students’ already busy lives, Ms. Creagh said that the activities will take place during time that would previously have been spent on a normal feed. “We don’t want it to be additive, and it shouldn’t feel didactic or workshop-y,” she explained.
As far as day students are concerned, some of the topics of discussion will not apply to them, as they were built for the members of a residential community.
“The program will hopefully emulate a conversation you might have with your parents at the dinner table,” said English teacher Michael Schloat, a member of the committee. “Day students already have that…they are welcome if they wish to attend.”
Mr. Schloat, along with fellow committee member and history teacher Rebecca Melvoin will assume two of the four positions of Residential Heads. This means that they will be present at the meetings and activities, and will also determine a more concrete plan for the program in the coming term. “We are looking for constructive suggestions,” said Mr. Schloat.