After just a month, The Freshman Village has dramatically changed the social climate of Deerfield.
Last year, The Village was first introduced by Dean of Students Amie Creagh during a Wednesday school meeting. The concept of The Village was to provide a shared living space for ninth grade boys and girls in order to address the gender divide on campus, to promote stronger class bonds, and to ease new sophomore integration by also establishing all-sophomore dorms. This announcement was met with resistance from the student body, mainly rising male juniors and seniors because The Village would be located in Johnson-Doubleday. Now, ninth grade girls live in Johnson, ninth grade boys live in Doubleday, and Crowe Commons acts as a buffer between the two.
Many students expressed concern after the establishment of The Village. The community worried about females and males living in the same dorm, exclusive cliques forming in the freshman class, and new sophomores struggling in their respective dorms. However, many faculty and students are now pleased with the changes that The Village has fostered. “I’m hearing favorable reviews,” Mrs. Creagh stated. “They seem to enjoy their time together, and I think they’re forging class bonds.” She also mentioned that “the ninth graders feel at home in The Village.”
Emily Henderson ’19 agrees. “We all have fun [in The Village], and I believe having all the freshmen together has helped us bond well as a grade.” Kento Yamamoto ‘16, a proctor in Doubleday, stated, “I was afraid there would be more cliques among the freshmen, but everyone is so friendly to one another.”
Many believe that the biggest gain from The Village is the growth of healthy relationships among and between boys and girls on campus. Dr. Ivory Hills, a five-year dorm resident on Doubleday II, stated, “I see boys and girls hanging out in what appears to be a safe and productive manner.” Akya Evans ’16, a proctor in Johnson, believes these relationships were made possible by The Village’s joint common room: “I have seen many boy–girl friendships blossom just because of the common room they share. The Crowe has been an amazing outlet for them to be social and to just be normal kids. As a grade, they are extremely close, and I love seeing that the boys aren’t separated from the girls like in one of those awkward 80s movies.”
Although the freshman class has forged unquestionably strong bonds in the past month, some upperclassmen and sophomores feel disconnected from the freshmen. Equally, the freshmen are worried about not knowing enough upperclassmen and sophomores. Yamamoto commented, “I have a lot of upperclassmen (and some sophomores) coming up to me saying that they don’t know any freshmen.” Alex Alijani ’19 added, “I find it harder to meet sophomores and upperclassmen because we don’t live in the same dorm and they never come to the Crowe.”
Some have attributed the diminished amount of inter-class interactions to the misunderstandings between freshmen and upperclassmen. Christine Callinan ’16 has noticed this in numerous settings like athletics, saying, “[The Freshman] have a skewed perception of authority and they don’t always take instruction well from the senior captains.” Jacqueline Alvarado ’17 attributes the lack of respect from freshmen to their isolated location: “Since [the freshmen] are so isolated, they don’t understand the school dynamic.”
In addition to concerns of class relations being damagaed, parts of the community feel disgruntled by the seemingly unlimited budget for the freshman class. Over the past month, the freshmen have enjoyed a flat screen TV along with a special Netflix account in the Crowe and have been given special privileges like surprise feeds and games. Other grades have expressed the feeling that the freshmen have been given special treatment. Katherine von Weise ‘17 stated, “I find [the unlimited budget] really unfair. Just because they’re new, it shouldn’t mean their class deserves more funding for their happiness.”