Res Life's new blocking option sparks interest in College Houses
The recent decision to allow larger blocks of students to apply to the College Houses resulted in a significant increase in applications to the houses. Applications increased by 30 percent from last year, after a modification in the House application process permitted students to apply in groups of three to eight.
Inter-House Council (IHC) President Sara Wiltshire '03 said that she is "not at all surprised" by the increase in the number of applicants. "I think it's a great start to some improvements in the college houses."
Quinby House President Tim McIntire '04 remarked, "At this point, any increase in the number of applicants is definitely a good thing. The past few years, we haven't had enough applications to fill the houses."
Assistant Director of Residential Life Alice Hershey recalled that "Many IHC members felt that blocks could be a good addition to the House if the group were enthusiastic about the House System The IHC has discussed the importance of fostering an open and welcoming atmosphere in all of the Houses."
Under the new system, blocks of students are accepted or rejected as a group. "I think that the blocking will allow for a more successful system," Wiltshire said. "With the number of applications increasing, we are filling the system with people who want to be house leaders rather than non-leaders who get in through the lottery."
Wiltshire recalled that when students were only allowed to apply alone or in pairs "there was always the concern that someone in the group might not be accepted. This way the applicants are allowed to stick together, which makes the entire experience more enjoyable for everyone."
One of the appealing aspects for many individuals is that allowing blocks to apply to the houses does not require rethinking the entire house system. Wiltshire adds, "The blocking process is a great way to alter the system without making drastic changes."
Overall the increase in applications represents a positive shift toward the development of the Houses. "It doesn't matter how people apply, as long as there's more interest and more active participation in the system," McIntire commented. He added, "Hopefully the blocks won't be detrimental to the dynamics within the house, and people will be open to others' ideas."
While allowing blocks to apply to houses has increased interest in the College Houses, some students are concerned about the presence of large groups in the small community fostered within the houses. Emma Leonard '05 has no strong feelings about whether or not blocks should be allowed in houses. However, she said that she would be "worried about a certain social group or sports team taking over a house."
In attempting to modify the College House System, the Bowdoin Student Government and the IHC held multiple discussions with students. After taking suggestions from those into account, "the block option seemed like a reasonable avenue for students to be guaranteed they could live with their friends while getting involved in the College House System," Hershey explained.
The IHC and the Residential Life Office plan to review the success of the blocks in the houses next year and make any necessary modifications to the system.