Section: Features

Sophomores find silver linings in return to first-year dorms

Mere months ago, sophomores were enjoying the perks of life in apartments and other upperclass dorms. Now, with the upperclass students’ return to campus, they have been relegated to McBride, Mather and the First-Year Quad — in many cases returning to the halls they lived in as first years. 

This switch means sophomores have lost many of the comforts they enjoyed last semester, such as private bathrooms, kitchens and common spaces, which are particularly valuable during quiet periods. Although this may seem like a downgrade, many have found that the return to their first-year halls has invited back fond memories.

“I never got to say goodbye to my freshman dorm,” said Maddie Vonk ’23, a sophomore living in Norton Residence Hall. Vonk lived in a North Campus Apartment (NCA) last semester with five friends, who are also now living in Norton. Although she didn’t like everything that came with the switch — such as the return to communal bathrooms — she felt that her time in the hall was cut short due to COVID-19, and was eager to return. In her first year, Lucy Adams ’23, a friend of Vonk’s, got permission to replace the painting above the mantel in the common room with a portrait she had painted. “Right before we all had to go home, Lucy finished this amazing portrait of Alison Janney, and put it up in the common room, and then we went home for spring break and no one got to enjoy it,” Vonk said. Now, they have ample time to do so. 

Returning to their old dorms prompted many students to reminisce about their time there, including Leah Anderson ’23, who has since returned to Gund Residence Hall. She now lives on the floor where her best friend lived during their first year on campus, and walking down her hall reminds her of the memories they shared together. “I would come up here a lot my freshman year … I’m happy because I think about when we used to get ready together,” she said. However, the memories are bittersweet, Anderson said, because they highlight the changes that COVID-19 has brought to campus. “It makes me miss the things that I could do as a freshman that we don’t really have anymore,” Anderson said.

While they have returned to familiar spaces, most sophomores find this semester to be very unlike what they experienced as first years. “My habits at school are so different than they were then, even just because of COVID stuff,” said Abby Foster ’23, who currently lives in Mather Residence Hall. “In my freshman year, my friends and I would spend a good amount of time in the McBride kitchen on the third floor. But we can’t do that because of COVID.” Dorms themselves are also organized differently — all rooms have one resident — and Foster is now living in a triple alone. Vonk noted that Norton is now a coed dorm, despite having housed only women since 2016. 

Some sophomores enjoy returning to the proximity to friends and lack of communal responsibility that comes with solo-dorm living. “Figuring out dishes and cleaning and stuff was a hurdle that I don’t have to deal with anymore, which is nice,” Foster said. Anderson also noted that she has more friends living close by this semester, because so many sophomores were in NCAs last semester. 

Although the amenities may not be as nice and the architecture not as beautiful, students have found comfort in the memories and simplicity of first-year housing.

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