The Odd Quads

This year, students returning to Fawcett and Auen halls were met with an interesting surprise, one that prompted much discussion and confusion among its residents. Much to the horror of many night owls, study lounges in each tower had been converted for use as dorm rooms. The two rooms, which had been open for use as 24-hour study lounges in the past, now each house four Claremont McKenna College freshmen, making them the only quads on campus. As Dean Eric Vos, the new Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life, explained, the need for more housing arose this summer as a result of slight miscalculations on the part of many different offices of the administration that work together to handle student housing each year. The faculty must take in to consideration the number of incoming freshmen, the number of students traveling abroad, the number of students living off campus, and a number of other variables. Small errors can easily happen, Vos added, “when you have all of these different forecasts.”

As a result, the administration was faced with eight extra students who needed housing for the year. Early on, Vos says,  they considered converting “eight doubles to triples … impacting 24 people in their living experience.” They chose instead to convert the Fawcett and Auen study lounges, wanting to avoid inconveniencing as more students.

Although this change may have come as a shock to many returning students, it wasn’t as unprecedented as some might think. As Vice President for Student Affairs, Jeff Huang, pointed out, “In the last 15 years or so … we’ve probably used the Auen and Fawcett study lounges as rooms 5 or 6 times.”

That said, the administration has committed itself to preventing the same situation from occurring next year. Specifically, Dean Vos (or Dean Eric, as he likes to be called) pointed to plans to “alter forecasting models so this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.” However, it remains to be seen whether or not this is a reachable goal, especially if the lounges have already been used for quads in the past.

Meanwhile, eight students find themselves in a living situation quite unlike that of nearly every other member of the CMC community. If living with one other person can sometimes test one’s nerves, it’s hard to imagine the challenges that must come with splitting a living space lacking any walls or boundaries among four people.

Kimberly Coombs (CMC '15), one of the residents living in the newly converted Auen quad, tried to alleviate some of that curiosity by describing her experience to the Forum. "It is a little difficult living with four people because we are all different and are used to living and doing things differently,” said Coombs. She added, however, “I like the big space that is given to all of us; I don't feel like I am cramped in a tiny space. I also really like how big the closets are compared to the size of them in normal dorms.”

 

As a reminder to residents of Auen and Fawcett, the first floors of the towers tends to invite plenty of noise, especially late at night, and that noise affects the students who live there. Coombs noted that “even for the Auen quad, people can be very noisy and this makes it somewhat difficult at night to focus or fall asleep … you hear all the doors opening and closing all the time. You can also hear everything that goes on in the lounge and outside our room.”

It seems that the use of these lounges as quads is far less unusual than many students (this one included) originally thought. Still, it is hard to say that the rest of the student body will not be impacted. Both lounges were frequented by students hoping to get in some late night work, and, now that they have been occupied, the need for more 24-hour study lounges has only increased.

Fortunately, as Dean Eric pointed out, a number of new study spaces will be opening up on campus, including the Crocker Reading Room in the Bauer Center, which will now be open to students from 10am to 1am. In addition, a room in the Emmet student center will be made available and, as Dean Eric explained,  will “be 24 hour accessible to students.’’ Although the room currently lacks a name, Vos hopes that one might be found through a student poll (I propose the Chuck Testa Study Space). Still, this news likely comes as little comfort to many residents of South Quad and Mid Quad, for whom the tower study lounges represented the preferred study spot specifically for their convenience.

The limited availability of late-night study locations to students has already come under criticism, especially given the relatively early closing time of the Honnold/Mudd library on weeknights. The use of these rooms for quads hardly seems to be as unprecedented or unusual as many students might have thought, but it is hard to deny the inconvenience that this change has caused.

Want more reporting from Adam Griffith? You may also be interested in changes to the ASCMC Senate, his experience on the CMC Israel Trip and recent CMC rankings in both Forbes and the Princeton Review.