“Extra.” “Beautiful.” “Bougie.” “Insanely nice.” All of these words have been used to describe the new residence hall on East Campus—affectionately known as the megadorm—which has been as polarizing as it is fancy.
Trinity House, a $25 million project, opened its doors this month to students who studied abroad last semester, but will transition to housing first-years in the future. Located between Bell Tower Residence Hall and Broad Street, it is stocked with an arcade, theater, full-sized beds and can hold 250 students—making it the largest dorm on East Campus. Student reactions to this new dorm, so far, have been diverse.
Junior Aleah Peffer lives there right now, and though she is very impressed by the facilities, she does have some minor complaints.
“It’s a beautiful dorm,” she said, “But I don’t like the fact that I am far away from food and far away from my friends.”
Peffer noted that residents at Trinity House were still limited to choosing an upperclassmen meal plan, so they cannot swipe into Marketplace during breakfast, brunch or dinner, as first-years can. Junior Cassandra Williams also lamented the current lack of a printer in the dorm.
First-years, who do not live in the dorm this year, had mixed opinions on the new dorm’s amenities.
First-year Salat Ahmed questioned whether the arcade or video-game television would distract students from academics, while first-year Cass Turk had the opposite concern.
“I’d be a little worried to see if people are actually taking advantage of [the amenities],” she said. “I would want to see how people use them before suggesting they go into all the dorms.”
While first-years cannot swipe into Trinity this semester because it is not a “dry” dorm—making it the only residence hall on East Campus where alcohol is permitted—it will open up next year when it becomes a first-year dorm.
Since Trinity House will become a first-year residence hall, the question arises: will there be any tension between those who live there and those that live in older dorms?
Peffer and Williams disagreed on how Trinity will affect future first-years. Peffer thought it would be awkward because of how nice it is compared with other dorms, which could make Duke’s system of random assignment look unfair. She hoped Duke would not abandon random assignment in favor of charging students more to live in Trinity.
Williams believed that people will get over the difference in quality, noting that when she lived in Bassett in her first year, she would spend a lot of her time elsewhere, namely in Gilbert-Addoms Down Under.
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“I think the downstairs area of the new Megadorm will turn into a hangout spot for other dorms,” she noted. “I don’t know if that will be a good or bad thing necessarily, but that could interfere with future freshmen [in Trinity House] having a community in their dorm life because so many other people will want to hang out there.”
Neither Ahmed, Turk nor first-year Kyla Brezitski thought there would be any issues. They all said that discrepancies between dorms already exist, but nobody is too bothered by them because all first-years can visit and take advantage of any other East Campus residence hall. Nevertheless, Brezitski did struggle to assess the worthiness of Duke’s big investment.
“I certainly think it’s nice for the students, though I don’t know if it’s the best use of money,” she said. “It definitely is a nice experience, but maybe it could have been used for educational purposes.”
John Blackshear, an academic dean and faculty-in-residence at Giles Residence Hall, also does not foresee any major problems arising due to Trinity House. He and his wife Kimberly Blackshear mentioned how every dorm has pros and cons, including Trinity House. She also dispelled the notion that everything there is excessive. For example, the theater could not legally be a dorm room anyways because there are not any windows, so instead of making it a storage room, Duke created a potential hang-out, study and seminar spot.
“If Duke had slided and put something that’s mediocre, then there would’ve been negative talk about why they invested so poorly,” she added.
The Blackshears are slated to be the next FIRs at Trinity House, and they are prepared to bring their enthusiasm for programming and build a community there. John Blackshear said he was enthusiastic about his family’s future at Trinity House and for the future of Duke.
“I’ve been here 16 years and this is by far the most aggressive growth that I’ve seen us take since I’ve been here, and I just have to believe that this will lead to a restructuring of the campus that will just make it better,” he said. “But old Duke will still be here at the heart of it all and I think we’ve got to keep that.”