As the Office of Residential Life opens new upperclassman housing at 52 Harpswell Road and reviews the floating chem-free floors introduced last fall, it expects positive results. Thirty-five upperclassmen now reside at 52 Harpswell, freeing up space in first year bricks where some sophomores and juniors lived before. The new dorm was once an assisted living facility, Stevens Retirement Home, but was converted into chem-free College housing this summer. 

In past years, the fourth floors of both Osher Hall and West Hall were shared between first years and upperclassmen. With the addition of  the living space at 52 Harpswell, however, first years “were able to reclaim those floors,” said Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall. 

“We like the idea of having all first-years on a floor, and not a mix of upperclassmen and first years, so that students can have that true first-year experience,” said Rendall.
This change means an additional 20 open beds for first years in Osher and West and allows Residential Life to redesignate quints as quads and many quads as triples in the first-year bricks.

Because of the additional space, there are more vacancies than there have been in the past.
“That’s awesome for the first-year class because we have some flexibility if we need to make changes,” said Rendall.

Rendall reported no other changes to upperclass housing.

Last fall, Bowdoin switched from its former system of having one chem-free first-year dorm to having chem-free floors in all of the different residence halls used by first years. This also meant that each floor in a dorm was affiliated with a different College House. Now, in the second year of this system, the floors have switched house affiliations, but the model is still the same.

“Last year we heard really great feedback about how there was no stigma about what dorm you lived on or what floor you lived on,” said Associate Director of Student Affairs Meadow Davis.
Because of this feedback, the designation of house affiliations and chem-free floors will likely continue changing each academic year.

“My guess is that we would continue to flip them around so that people make that choice [about chem-free living] and then decide if they tell people or don’t tell people,” said Davis.
While College House residents reported difficulty building unity between house affiliates because of their disjointed locations on campus last year, there have been fewer complaints from the students—mostly sophomores—that are now living in the College Houses this year.

“What we’ve heard this year is that because the residents living in the houses, [the floating-floor system] was their only experience, they are doing a great job of thinking about and attracting affiliates from all of their different places,” said Davis.