Duke's new residential housing system will link East Campus dorms to West Campus quads starting with the Class of 2025.
The new residential model, called QuadEx, will be centered around residential quads with their “own identity, traditions and social events,” similar to other private universities. “Initial implementation of some elements” is underway this semester, and the system will be fully operational in fall 2022.
First-years will continue to live on East, and beginning with the Class of 2025, one to two East Campus houses will be assigned to one of seven quads on West Campus. Students cannot pick their quads. This is similar to the automated linking system that was established in spring 2020, but linking is now mandatory. The University will announce further details about linking this semester, according to the QuadEx FAQ.
Current first-years will learn their assigned quad in spring 2022, and the Class of 2026 and following classes will learn their assigned East Campus and West Campus residences prior to move-in.
Students will still be able to rush selective living groups and Greek organizations, but selective housing will be phased out after the 2022-23 academic year.
Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president for student affairs, told The Chronicle that living learning communities “will be incorporated into housing” when asked how they’ll be affected by QuadEx.
Similarly, senior Christina Wang, president of Duke Student Government, wrote that QuadEx "plans to preserve and foster the experience of LLCs, FOCUS groups, and academic-related groups."
“Quads will offer belonging, friendship, and continuity in the transition from East to West Campus, throughout their time at Duke, and well after graduation,” the website reads.
Students are allowed to select their roommates and request to block with friends, but all members of a block must be in the same Quad.
Students will live in their assigned quad in sophomore year but will still "retain affiliation with their quads" if they choose to live elsewhere after their sophomore year. Approximately 125 beds will be reserved for upperclass students in each quad.
Juniors may live in their assigned quad or other upperclass housing on West, including Hollows Quad and 300 Swift. Seniors may live in any of these locations or off campus.
Wang wrote that the reason that Hollows isn't part of the quad system is "a result of its different housing style (suite-style living)."
"Additionally, the goal of the Quad program is to build community in shared spaces such as the Gothics and more closely grouped Quads, making the Hollows less ideal as a community-building space for sophomores/juniors," Wang added.
Beginning in fall 2022, first-years will partake in a quad-based house course called “Duke-Durham 101,” which aims to prepare students for “good citizenship” at the University and in the surrounding community. Sophomores will participate in “Sophomore Spark,” which will provide academic and career programming and alumni networking opportunities. Quads will also be assigned Faculty Affiliates, who will provide mentorship and support quad traditions without the residential component.
The planning for QuadEx began in 2018 with the launch of the Next Generation Living and Learning Experience task force, according to its FAQ page. Recommendations made by the second iteration of the committee shaped the current model, which will be rolled out at a later date as the University works out some of the logistics.
McMahon told The Chronicle Tuesday that Duke is still working through more logistics of QuadEx. She estimates that they will formally roll out the full plan the last week of September.
Why the change?
Senior Ysanne Spence, president of Duke University Union, wrote that Duke has been a "near-explosion of selectivity, gate-keeping and imposter syndrome" in her experience. To Spence, QuadEx is an opportunity to "take the guess work" out of the social scene at Duke.
"Coupled with the fact that students just got accepted into an institution with a 4% acceptance rate, students are then thrusted into applications and gate-keeping of social and professional events and developments," she wrote.
Wang agreed, citing a "need for more inclusive spaces and community-building opportunities for all students, especially those who choose not to join selective social organizations (and even for those who do choose to join selective social organizations)."
Wang wrote that "administrators' intentions are not to restrict the student experience, but rather to expand it."
"I think a misconception that many students have is that administrators are attempting to limit student freedoms and create restrictions around what students can and cannot do socially, but a large goal behind this program is really to foster inclusivity and community across the board and create a less segmented Duke student experience," she wrote."
Both Wang and Spence noted that Duke implemented student feedback into the design process of QuadEx. Wang wrote that there were many student focus groups "designed and selected to incorporate the many diverse facets of student spaces and experiences" that were invited to share their opinions about social, academic and residential life at Duke.
Spence wrote that there will be more opportunities in place coming up for students to voice their opinions on quads and the implementation of QuadEx, including giveaways.
Leah Boyd contributed reporting.
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Nadia Bey, Trinity '23, was managing editor for The Chronicle's 117th volume and digital strategy director for Volume 118.