Exciting Changes from Residence Life/by Emilyn Gray
On Wednesday night, Feb.10, students at Mississippi College were emailed the details of the dorm changes for the fall semester of 2021.
Some of the major changes included changing New Men’s dorm into a co-ed freshman dorm. The east side will be renamed “Cockroft-Caldwell Hall” for the men and the west side to “Quick Hall” for the women, with a shared lobby in Holloway Rotunda. Whittington will also become a co-ed non-premium choice for freshmen. East Tower will house upperclassmen males and the lobby will be shared between the males in East and the upperclassmen females in West Tower and Mary Nelson.
Although these changes came as a surprise, the administration of MC has been looking at making them for the past two years.
“We felt that this was the right move at the right time for Mississippi College,” said Dr. Jonathan Ambrose, Dean of Students. The administration at MC continually looks at projections for the next several years and makes decisions that will be best for the institution as they move to their future goals. They evaluate the students’ wants and needs in conjunction with their vision of what MC should be to make these big decisions.
“We believe in an idea of creating community through curriculum,” Ambrose said. MC’s residential policy requires students to live on campus or with their legal guardian until they are 22 in order to retain institutional aid. The reason for this is to create the feeling in students that MC is their home and the people within their dorm are their family. The connections made between students during their years at college, especially their freshman year, fosters community within the school.
One of the ways the administration is hoping to accomplish this is through the co-ed lobby space. Over winter break the lobbies in the dorms were thoroughly renovated with new paint, lighting, and furniture. Julie Kerr, director of Residence Life, said, “I don’t want beautiful lobbies with no students in them, so we started tossing around the idea of how we are doing our housing.” Several students have voiced concerns that MC’s campus has very few places for students to study or hang out together at any time of day. Making the changes to the dorms to have co-ed lobbies will provide students with a space to be together to watch movies, meet with their study group, and more.
Another way that Residence Life will attempt to create connections across the classes of the students is in the new mentoring program. “If you’re passionate about living with freshmen and being a part of that community, we want you there,” Kerr said. Upperclassmen will be able to live with freshmen and be a helper, encourager, and listener whenever the freshman need them. Freshmen look up to upperclassmen because they are a little bit older and have been in college longer, so this program will bring them together.
Students are encouraged to voice their concerns to the school. One major concern that has been circulating is whether the proximity of guys and girls will create more opportunities for sneaking into dorms. Kerr said in response that a few years ago Gunter and Hederman housed freshmen and “we actually saw a decrease in our number of visitation type violations or warnings that the RAs were giving because we gave the students a space to hang out, co-ed, in the lobby together.” She also explained that they are going to add ID scanners so that there will not be easy access between male and female halls.
There has also been disappointment over New Men’s no longer housing upperclassmen. However, incoming Honors students may decide that they would rather live with the rest of the freshman in nicer dorms and possibly open up more space in the pods for upperclassmen. Ambrose and Kerr recognize the frustrations that this decision can cause and want students to have these conversations with them.
Both Ambrose and Kerr have stated that they are “really excited” for these changes and their effects on life at MC and hope students will be too.