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Admins detail housing reshuffling

Campus Council members heard a presentation at their meeting Thursday detailing updated policies that will be implemented under the house model.
Campus Council members heard a presentation at their meeting Thursday detailing updated policies that will be implemented under the house model.

Approximately 25 percent of sophomores will live on Central Campus once the house model is implemented, administrators said Thursday evening.

This policy—which will allow the creation of houses comprised of 50 percent sophomores and 50 percent juniors and seniors—was among the new developments detailed in a presentation about the house model at Campus Council. The overview was an updated version of a presentation made to the Board of Trustees in February and detailed a preliminary version of how houses will be determined as well as details regarding the first year of the transition to the model.

Donna Lisker, associate dean of undergraduate education, confirmed that residential living groups will not remain in their current spaces and will be given new locations under the house model. She emphasized “fit” as the most important factor in assigning space to groups.

“Year one of the house model is a start over for everybody,” she said. “SLGs will not ‘squat’ and instead be put into spaces depending where they fit.”

Lisker noted that Residence Life and Housing Services will keep in mind the need to balance the number of affiliated and unaffiliated houses within a single quadrangle.

Residence Group Assessment Committee scores will not be used to determine groups new spaces, said Joe Gonzalez, associate dean for residence life. He added that RLHS will look at groups’ historic ability to recruit members to their group, as filling the beds allocated to them is necessary if they are to have residential privileges.

Gonzalez added that RLHS will begin conversations with the Interfraternity Council and Selective House Council in April.

RLHS will not reveal selective living groups’ new locations until after their respective recruitment processes so that groups cannot use location to recruit new members next Spring. The rationale of RLHS is that sophomores for the 2012-2013 academic year will choose a house based on the group’s identity and personality—not location, Lisker said.

“Everyone will be homeless at RoomPix next year,” she said. “In some ways, I think that’s the most radical thing we’re doing.”

Seniors wishing to remain on campus for the 2012-2013 academic year will be placed into a house randomly if they are not already residentially affiliated, she added.

Limiting the emphasis on location is a principle the administration and Campus Council members wants to continue throughout the model, said Campus Council President Stephen Temple, a senior.

“We want to make location as minimally important as possible,” he said. “We want students to join a house based on camaraderie, friendship or potentially a theme or focus of the group.”

The “deeper” details of the house selection process for unaffiliated students is yet to be determined, Gonzalez said. He added that rising sophomores will most likely be able to list their house preferences and will still be able to block, though blocks will be between four and six students. Sophomores will likely not be required to room with other sophomores.

Once houses are established, Lisker said the goal is for the actual RoomPix process to be autonomous, with houses deciding how to distribute individual rooms independent of RLHS.

The house model will feature 49 houses on West and up to 23 on Central. Freshmen will still be placed into residence halls on East Campus. As sophomores, students will be placed into a house—unaffiliated or not, Lisker said. Once students are placed into a house, they have the “right of return,” for the following two years. Gonzalez noted, however, that RLHS will put some sort of “transfer process” into place for students who wish to switch houses, if their circumstances warrant it.

Lisker also said juniors returning from abroad might be accommodated differently, perhaps moving into junior-only housing—“Junior Village”—on Central Campus.

Houses on West will be oriented vertically “for the most part,” she said, noting that the recently renovated residence halls like Kilgo, Few and Keohane quadrangles are “proving more difficult” because they foster a horizontal orientation.

Houses will have an average size of 40 and 60 beds and each house will have common rooms, Lisker said, adding that the multi-class structure of the houses is also very important to promoting the model’s goals of community and equity.

Residential living groups will also be advised to encourage a “significant” number of seniors to stay on campus. He acknowledged that this request is particularly challenging when it comes to Greek residential organizations but added that RLHS will be discussing it with IFC.

“Compared to our current norm, this will be a challenge for our Greek organizations,” he said.

In other business:

Old Duke will take place April 15 in Keohane Amphitheater. The event is free and Sugar Ray is the featured artist. Campus Council will distribute free T-shirts, said Programming Chair Betsy Klein, a junior.


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