On Wednesday night, Duke Student Affairs held the first QuadEx information session and addressed first-years’ concerns with the new residential housing system.
The QuadEx housing system will link East Campus dorms to West Campus quads starting with the Class of 2025. 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.
QuadEx’s goal is to give students in each quad a sense of identity and tradition, similar to other private universities. The point of these information sessions is to give first years more opportunities to ask about the “nuts and bolts” about QuadEx, according to Chris Rossi, assistant vice president of Student Affairs for strategic engagement.
Rossi began the session with an explanation of the motivation behind QuadEx, starting with the history of Duke’s housing. East Campus became the home for all first-year students in 1995. East Campus is an especially formative experience for first-years because it is like a“melting pot” that promotes inclusivity, and all first years get to know each other, Rossi said.
In 2010, the Duke House Model was approved, in which affiliation with different student organizations determined which quads students lived in after their first year. However, these organizations—fraternities, sororities, non-Greek selective living groups and living learning groups—were selective in membership.
“[The House Model] created a lot of fragmentation and splintering of friend groups, and really broke up the first-year experience pretty early on,” Rossi said.
In 2018, President Vincent Price charged the Next Generation Living and Learning Experience task force, which began plans for a housing system that administrators feel is more inclusive for all students. That plan was the foundation for QuadEx, whose plans for implementation were announced in September.
“At least one area where we can start to unravel this culture of selectivity is starting to divorce the student membership from where you have access to live,” Rossi said.
Questions from first-years
Although the first-years who attended the information session said they understood QuadEx as an attempt to remove selectivity in housing, some were unsure as to how the new housing system will foster a sense of community and tradition amongst the quads.
“I don't associate the people specifically in my dorm with the idea of having a home base,” one first-year said. “My friends live in other dorms. They're my home base.”
Rossi said that allowing students of various backgrounds, life experiences and geographic regions to live together fosters a diverse residential community, and data shows that students reap positive benefits from interacting with those who are different from them.
Rossi also mentioned that QuadEx strives to increase flexibility by keeping blocking relatively large. "Blocks" are groups of students who live in adjacent rooms. There can be up to eight students in one block in the QuadEx system, but students may only be allowed to block with others from the same quad.
Another first-year asked why this was the case.
Rossi acknowledged that “no housing system is perfect” and that Student Affairs will change its policies and procedures to ensure each quad has its own traditions and social activities. They will strengthen the Quad Council model, which will provide each quad with student leadership and allow them the agency and funding for residence hall programming.
“We're going to make it easier for students to control their physical space, access resources, financial resources, funding from the school, and quite frankly, have fun on campus,” he said. “That is how some of our identities develop.”
Rossi emphasized that swapping quads is not permitted, unless students need a certain living accommodation that is not available in their assigned quad.
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Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.