Since the establishment of the Village in 2015, each ninth-grader received emails three weeks in advance of the school year that provided them with their soon-to-be roommate’s name, email address, and hometown. Many students were quick to reach out to their roommates, exchanging phone numbers and connecting on social media. But some in the administration felt that these early connections would lead to premature assumptions about roommates based on public image or background.
This year, for the first time, ninth grade students were not given any information about their roommates before arriving on campus. 9th and 10th Grade Dean Rebecca Melvoin decided on this change alongside Assistant Head of School for Student Life Amie Creagh, 11th and 12th Grade Dean Sam Bicknell, Dean of Students Kevin Kelly, and the Village’s faculty residents. She wanted new students to keep an open mind and not form early judgements from online profiles before meeting face-to-face.
In a letter to the Class of 2022 on August 10th, Ms. Melvoin wrote, “Remember, the people on your hall are more than their persona on social media. They are more than the photos on their pages. As you start to connect with one another, do so with an open mind and growth mindset.”
She hopes that this policy enables “students [to] think about the type of hall they want to create rather than the setup of the individual rooms.”
Another motive behind the change was the desire to build communities on each hall.
Ms. Melvoin explained, “When welcoming the ninth-graders over the summer, I wanted them to think about building community. If I were to send the ninth-graders their roommate assignments, my guess is that they would immediately focus on that other person and not think about the other people on the hall.” Anna Mishchenko ’19, who lived in the Village during her ninth-grade year, agreed. She commented, “I did get closer to my roommate than my other hallmates during the summer,” although she felt this had little effect on her relationships once she arrived on campus.
“I ended up reaching out to many people in the Village other than my roommate — I didn’t focus on getting to know just her,” Mishchenko explained.
Clark Louis ‘22 believes that this change is fulfilling its goal, even if it was initially disconcerting.
“It was weird for us to not know who our roommates were,” he said. “But I guess it allowed us to get to know other people on our hall and not just our roommates.”
Despite not connecting with her roomate prior to the school year, Maddy Zavalick ’22 has enjoyed a positive roommate experience under the new system. She said, “I’ve found it easy to communicate with her, even though we didn’t talk over the summer.”
Zavalick’s proctor, Sophie Opler ’19, explained, “It allowed the students to bond as a hall prior to their arrival at Deerfield rather than focusing on their future roommates.”
Colin Olson ‘19, a proctor in Doubleday, added, “I think it’s a good policy because the whole nature of the Village was to bring the [ninth] grade together, and this is just one step in forming that community.”