After hearing Ms. Creagh’s announcement at School Meeting concerning the new dorm arrangement on campus, I was shocked by the decision to make Johnson and Doubleday a “Freshman Village.”
Johnson-Doubleday has since the beginning been a historically popular upperclassman-boys dorm on campus. Although some students and teachers alike feel the dorm is only popular in the community because of its reputation for drugs and drinking, many students there haven’t participated in any of these activities.
Students I’ve spoken to say they appreciate the dorm because it allows for more freedom. When boys get the chance to live in Johnson and Doubleday their junior or senior year, they feel they have finally earned a bit more freedom on campus. Not only do upperclassman boys get to live in doubles or triples with their close friends, but the isolation of these dorms on campus gives upperclassman boys a portion of campus dedicated to them.
Hearing Ms. Creagh’s announcement on Wednesday, I was initially against this proposal. I thought it might change the school culture too much. But after I began thinking about the situation a little more, I realized the positives that could result from this action. If the intention of this action is to increase school spirit and improve relationships throughout the grade levels, then this new dorm arrangement seems to be the only practical solution.
Having all the freshmen live together in Johnson and Doubleday with roommates will force them to interact with one another and eventually develop strong ties with one another. Also, the all-sophomore dorms will make the new sophomore transition into the school community a little easier since the sophomores will, like the freshman, have to interact and become acquainted with their fellow sophomores.
I understand that the biggest counterargument to this proposal is that students will stop associating with students from other grade levels if this plan goes through—but I don’t believe that’s true.
First off, the Prefect position, for freshman, and, the Proctor position, for sophomores, will guarantee that underclassmen build relationships with seniors.
Second, although students may be separated by dorms, students still have the chance to interact with one another in classrooms, during sports, at the Greer and during extracurricular activities, campus-wide activities, meals and during the weekends.
Third, the upperclassmen dorm situation will remain the same: only the location will be different. Juniors and seniors will still be living with each other. The new dorm arrangement is simply switching the historically upperclassman side of campus with the historically underclassman side of campus.
It may seem odd to those of us who have been at Deerfield for three or four years to think about Barton or Field as being dorms for seniors and juniors, but all changes seem odd at first. Soon many of us will forget that Johnson and Doubleday were ever the popular upperclassman boys dorms they presently are, just as many forgot that Scaife was a popular underclassman boys dorm or many have forgotten how the old Memorial Building looked.
Change always seems scary at first because our minds have become accustomed to viewing things in a certain way. It will take time for us three- or four-year Deerfield students to grow comfortable with this idea, but this change is going to happen. So instead of thinking of the negative as I initially did, I encourage all students and faculty alike to think of the positives changes this new dorm arrangement could bring to our school culture.