First, no Naples. Now, no Old Campus? What kind of freshman year is that? With Timothy Dwight, Silliman, Morse, Stiles, and Berkeley college freshmen all living away from Old Campus next year, the “freshmen pad” will be more like some freshmen, some annexed juniors, and some construction workers.
Simply, Old Campus has charms that Swing Space can never have. Where else can you spot a bassist generating silky notes during an impromptu performance on an unusually warm day? Where else can you spy a frantic filmmaker shooting for the upcoming freshman film, “Unorthodox”? Where else can you fall asleep reading on a blanket, get trampled by Frisbee players, and never buy tampons in Durfee’s without seeing at least 10 people you know?
Doesn’t the Freshman Class Council, after painting a room blue and calling it the Freshmen Lounge, care about this obvious freshman housing issue? Apparently not. More relevant issues include making sure the truffles at Winter Ball are top-notch.
The new move is particularly bad for the Berkeley freshmen.
While Morse and Stiles freshmen will be close to their peanut brittle-esque home, Berkeley freshmen will be blocks away from their dining hall, Hemingway Music Room, and weight room. Their only forced interaction with Berkeley upperclassmen will be with their freshmen counselors, unless the college sets up tents in the courtyard for freshmen to crash on Saturday nights.
And with an entire building of only freshmen, far from the locked gates and police sub-station of Old Campus, adult supervision will be even stronger because of Swing Space’s isolation.
Yale’s frosh will no longer be able to enjoy an out-in-Siberia Vandy courtyard with 20-foot towers of shopping carts. And freshman year just won’t be the same without a Durfee’s that’s open late for overpriced anything and LC classrooms that are always open if you want to write a paper on your laptop but it’s too cold or past library hours to go to CCL.
Another problem with the plan is the decision to put all annexed upperclassmen in Durfee and McClellan Halls. It makes more sense to consider putting upperclassmen with the freshmen in their college: annexed upperclassmen from Branford should live with Branford freshmen. This would help create a residential college feel with more “big sib” types on hand.
As Yale carries out these housing plans, they should work hard to create a vibrant frosh environment in Swing Space. And before they make their final decision about separating upperclassmen from their colleges’ freshmen, perhaps they should seriously consider possible damage to Yale’s residential college tradition.
All harshness aside, Vanderbilt desperately needs renovation. The dust there never settles and I don’t think anyone would mind less of the sauna-like conditions created by overheated radiators.
And it’s true that by putting three colleges of freshmen together, an atmosphere similar to Old Campus can be replicated. These future freshmen can indulge in Swing Space’s amenities while escaping the teeny rooms and overpriced snack food on Old Campus.
But while Swing Space does have its attractive qualities, freshman life won’t be the same next year. Yale’s Old Campus and residential college system are unique; no other university has this same atmosphere of tradition, community, and eclecticism.
Let’s just say, then, that next year’s freshmen will have a different perspective.
Sarah Weiss is a freshman in Branford College. Her columns appear on alternate Wednesdays.