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Freshman community still work in progress

Elizabeth Campbell

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Marshall Miller proudly wears his Elder Hall third floor T-shirt with “E3” on the front and “We run this joint” on the back, but the Weinberg freshman said he doesn’t know where his Freshmen Quad shirt is.

Miller’s fashion choices seem to reflect the level of community that many said still needs to be achieved throughout the newly formed Freshmen Quad of Elder, Hinman House and 600 Lincoln.

Although the community is still in the “developmental stage,” housing officials said they are pleased with this first-year student community. Elder will remain all-freshmen next year, said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director of residential life.

“Given all the anecdotal information from staff and hall governments, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t continue it,” Koch said. “We have made a lot of progress this year.”

Miller, the third-floor representative of Elder, said he became close friends with his hallmates over the year, but a unified sense of community throughout the Freshmen Quad does not yet exist.

As a member of dorm government, Miller helps plan different activities for the quad, such as formals, cookouts and trips to Chicago. But there is only so much students can do, he said.

“It’s kind of hard to inspire a sense of community among 400 people who aren’t necessarily enthusiastic about it,” Miller said.

Many residents said they emphasize floor pride with floor shirts and also identify with their individual buildings, but agree that a strong affiliation with the entire Freshmen Quad is still in the works.

Freshmen Quad President Suzanna Winslow said the student government is working to rectify this situation. Most quad activities take place in Elder, the largest dorm in the quad. But by purchasing equipment such as a big-screen TV for the two smaller residential halls, often known as Hinman-Lincoln, the quad government hopes to tie more activities to the entire community.

“We thought that would develop more of a quad,” Winslow said. “Rather than Elder and oh, Hinman-Lincoln.”

The Quad’s student government works with the residential area coordinator, RAs and other residential life staff to organize different programs including healthy living seminars, career services presentations and diversity education.

The sense of everyone “in the same boat” is a common phrase residents and administrators alike use to describe the community.

“I’ve really liked the sense of community that’s been fostered by having everyone on the same playing field — being freshmen and new to Northwestern,” said Weinberg freshman Michael Kane. “A lot of the reason I think it’s hard to meet people is that you don’t know if you share anything in common. But being in Elder, I always know that I have something in common.”

The only upperclassmen, Freshmen Quad RAs cite different problems.

“There’s just different needs for an all-freshmen dorm,” said Ada Lee, an Elder RA.

Lee, a McCormick senior, listed disciplinary, academic and even decision-making problems as specific issues her residents face.

“Immaturity breeds more immaturity,” Lee said.

Looking back on the first year of the Freshmen Quad, Koch said she hopes to strengthen the academic focus of some of the quad’s activities for next year.

Citing the residential college activities as a “fantastic model” for the Freshmen Quad, Koch said adding workshops on topics such as study skills would benefit first-year students.

Although the focus of this programming is primarily on Quad residents, Koch added housing officials would like to connect all freshmen with this part of campus, perhaps by having New Student Week activities held there next year.

Reach Elizabeth Campbell at e-campbell-1@northwestern.edu.

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