ResLife to introduce changes to first-year housing

2/1/17 - Resident Advisor Robert Middlemist poses for a portrait in Harleston Hall on Feb. 1.

The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) is preparing to consolidate first-year housing at Tufts and restructure the Residential Assistant (RA) program in the coming year, according to ResLife Director Yolanda King.

Going forward, ResLife will house most first-year students in first-year only buildings, according to Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Chris Rossi. This means the elimination of many mixed dorms, buildings in which both first-years and sophomores live together, according to Rossi.

Several buildings that have previously provided mixed housing will be changed to house either only first-years or only sophomores. Currently, first-year students live in a variety of spaces, including first-year only housing such as Tilton, Houston and Haskell Halls, and mixed-year buildings such as Miller, Lewis and Harleston Halls.

According to King, the changes will affect Wilson House, Bush Hall and Miller Hall, all currently mixed dorms. They will become first-year only housing, in addition to Tilton Hall and Houston Hall.

Harleston Hall will continue to house first-year and returning students, albeit in separate sections of the building, while previously first-year only Haskell Hall will be occupied solely by returning students, Rossi added. Lewis Hall will now only house returning students, in addition to Carpenter HouseHillside Apartments, Latin Way Apartments, Sophia Gordon Hall, Stratton Hall, West Hall and Wren Hall.

According to King and Julie Kennedy, the area residence director for Area Three of Tufts’ housing system, these changes will be accompanied by an increase in the number of doubles in Stratton Hall and a strengthening of the resources and programs designed to help students find off-campus housing.

Haskell Hall, a suite-style dorm building, will be switched from a first-year only dorm to a returning students’ dorm, according to Rossi. Rossi explained that this change is motivated by a housing study that Tufts conducted last year, which indicated that first-years are generally more satisfied with and form stronger communities in conventional dorms rather than suite-style buildings.

This emphasis on community for first-years was echoed by King, who said that the reforms were intended to enhance first-year students’ living experience.

The change will also provide more suite-style living for upperclassmen, Rossi saidKing further noted that the coming arrangement would be a more efficient use of Tufts’ housing capacity, and would allow for the creation of desired first-year communities.

According to Rossi, the changes coming to the housing system are a result of cooperation between ResLife, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate and other student groups. Following the results of the housing survey last year, Tufts moved to implement changes to improve the communal life of students and consolidate housing according to student preference.

King and Kennedy noted that the change in the housing system will also be accompanied by a shift in the roles played by RAs. Starting next year, there will be two distinct residential advisor roles. According to King, the RA role will be separated into First Year Advisors (FYAs) and Community Development Advisors (CDAs)FYAs will live in first-year residences, while CDAs will live in continuing student housing, according to King and Kennedy.

Robert Middlemist, a current RA, said that he is looking forward to the coming changes and hopes they will help create stronger communities in the first-year class, particularly because FYAs will help to serve as orientation leaders. Middlemist, a junior, added that he has personally enjoyed working as an RA.

“Being an RA has provided me with a community or family that I had dearly missed during my [earlier] time at Tufts,” he said.