Residences open doors to grad students, freshmen

Sheila Burt

Major changes to four residence halls on the Evanston Campus — including two all-freshman dorms and on-campus housing for graduate students — will go into effect Fall Quarter, Northwestern officials announced Tuesday.

In a pilot program that might expand to other residence halls in the future, 600 Lincoln and Hinman House will be converted into the university’s only all-freshman dorms.

Lindgren Hall will become NU’s only on-campus housing for graduate students and 584 Lincoln will be removed from the housing system. The former Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, 584 Lincoln was converted into a residence hall after an influx of students dropped out of study-abroad programs following Sept. 11, 2001.

Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of university housing, said the changes in housing allocation are in response to the desires of administrators, students and parents. The all-freshman dorm pilot program will operate under several university departments and will be evaluated for its strengths and weaknesses, he added.

About 86 students currently live in the adjoining Hinman House and 600 Lincoln. Two-thirds of the residents are freshmen and one-third are upperclassmen, D’Arienzo said.

For decades, NU dorms mixed students of all ages, but “in recent years, the university has been willing to take a second look at that,” D’Arienzo said.

In the 2001-02 academic year, Kemper Hall became a dorm for only upperclassmen, and freshmen were assigned to live on one floor in Foster-Walker Complex.

D’Arienzo said an all-freshman dorm will allow students to live with peers who are in “the same boat.”

Mary Desler, associate vice president for student affairs, said officials will use the current First Year Involvement program as a model for activities. During Fall Quarter, the FYI program holds small meetings for students on different topics, such as time management and how to get involved on campus, but attendance dropped throughout the quarter, Desler said.

Housing officials are also in the process of looking at other schools with freshman-only residence halls, Desler said.

Lauren Rosen, freshman class chairwoman for the Northwestern Class Alliance, said she believes such dorms isolate freshmen from interacting with students of all ages. She said getting to know upperclassmen who live in her dorm, Elder Hall, has helped her learn more about NU.

“The interaction is vital to be integrated into the school system,” said Rosen, a Communication freshman.

Stephanie Miller, a Communication freshman who lives in 600 Lincoln, said she would not want to live in an all-freshman dorm.

“I like being with upperclassmen and being able to meet people other than freshmen,” Miller said. “They made the effort to be very friendly toward me.”

But Raysh Weiss, a Communication freshman who lives in Foster-Walker’s Healthy Living Unit, said an all-freshman dorm would allow students of the same age to create stronger bonds.

“I think students will still experience the diversity at NU,” Weiss said.

D’Arienzo said there has been large demand for on-campus graduate housing because existing halls for graduate students are located several blocks from campus.

Freshman Ateet Ahluwalia said he had not planned on living in Lindgren House again next year but knows many students who do.

“I wish they would have told other people sooner,” said Ahluwalia, a Weinberg freshman. “It leaves them in an awkward position.”