Central changes to alter quad model

The quad model will be bent for the second year in a row, in the name of expanded options for students.

A new housing policy, announced earlier this month and taking effect as a pilot this Fall, will allow up to 60 sophomores to live on Central Campus. Administrators said the change was decided upon with the goal of making the housing model more conducive to a diverse set of student needs.

"My mantra is more flexibility and more options," Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki said. "This is just one very small step toward creating flexibility."

The preliminary change is one of many in a general move toward a housing model that integrates East and West campuses with New Campus, which will extend West over the 200-acre middle campus, according to plans by Nowicki drafted last Spring. Opening Central to sophomores is not a permanent change, Nowicki said, but he noted that it is one step toward expanded options, which he said is important to an ideal housing community. The change will also play into discussions about whether sophomores should stay on West Campus or live throughout New Campus when it is built, said Joe Gonzalez, associate dean for residential life.

"We know in the long run the way to make [the living community] better is by building new housing," Nowicki said. "I want to have us thinking what can we do in the short intermediate run.... What I don't want to do is just try out marginal changes here and there-changes we do try out are leading to the same direction."

Last semester, 46 sophomores elected to live on Central-an option in order to accommodate the housing crunch due to Few Quadrangle renovations. It marked the first time since the quad model was implemented in 2002 that all sophomores were not required to live on West Campus.

The quad model-including all freshmen on East and sophomores on West-was meant to be "the cornerstone of a four-year experience," stemming from a mandate requiring all freshmen to live on East Campus, Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, wrote in a guest column to The Chronicle in 2001. But in an interview Tuesday, he explained that the proposed changes to the model should help identify potential demand for more housing options.

"It's a pilot-it gives us the ability to explore increasing the alternatives that would be available to students without necessarily sacrificing the core principles," Moneta said. "One of the wonderful features of Duke is the sense that within the broad common experience-the big 'D'-we're also noted for incredibly diverse, unique and individual opportunities."

A survey of almost 300 sophomores conducted by Campus Council last semester showed that a majority-70 percent-felt they should be given the option to live on Central. But 90 percent said they would not actually elect to live there.

Real student demand for the option is still unknown, several administrators noted.

"Is this a sound idea or not? Demand will be an initial indicator, and right now we have no way to really predict what that demand is going to be," Gonzalez said. The pilot will be reevaluated halfway through the Fall semester, he added.

Campus Council President Molly Bierman, a senior, said positive feedback from sophomores living on Central last semester in addition to survey results sparked the change.

"There was some persuasion involved-this wasn't an idea that was necessarily on the forefront when the semester began," Gonzalez said. "Campus Council had really brought into mind these discussions. I also think the fact we had sophomores on Central this year helped with the comfort level and thinking, 'Maybe this environment really does work for a handful of sophomores.'"

Campus Council had concluded from the survey results that there was not a strong link between the sophomore-year experience and living on West, Bierman said, noting that many sophomores said they valued living with their friends rather than specifically with their classmates. The change is another way to address the needs of independents by providing them more options, Nowicki added.

Yet several sophomores who moved from Central to Few this semester said they felt isolated and missed the sense of camaraderie on West. Sophomore Linda Zhou also noted that the importance of living on West is heightened for those involved in campus organizations.

"A lot of upperclassmen said they like it, but they also felt more settled," she said. "When you're a sophomore you're still part of campus life and you still want your community, especially if you're active in the community."

Sophomore Christina Burgart, who lived on Central last semester and now resides in Few, said she would prefer that the entire class live on West for the sake of keeping the community, although she noted that a few sophomores moving off West would not drastically affect class unity.

A majority of sophomores-about 60 percent-and an even greater percentage of Central residents "very" much value proximity to West, according to the surveys.

But other sophomores who have continued to reside on Central noted that the privacy and amenities the campus afforded are higher priorities than the social community offered by West.

"It was cheaper than living on West, and I just like not having to live in a dorm and having your own bathroom," sophomore Melody Chou said. "I live with most of the people I hang around most of the time. It wasn't a big deal that I wasn't always around others-I don't need to spend all my time with them."

For the pilot, sophomores on Central will be housed in a few buildings that are close to each other to create more unity among the class. This year, the sophomores living on Central were scattered across the campus. Burgart noted that although the change would improve the "community feel," she had found that apartment-style living often led to a more inclusive lifestyle.

Freshman Maha Mourad, who is considering living on Central next year, said she would appreciate the independence of apartment-style living, but is worried about feeling separated from her class and friends. Nonetheless, she said students should have the option to exercise their "right to live on Central."

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