Third-Year Housing Will Not House All Third-Years
By Libby Sutherland
With the final decision on third-year housing made and no chance of going back to the old days of juniors living freely at Windfall, the Pole Houses, and the Cabins, it’s time for all of us to accept this new housing complex and work towards ensuring its success. While the end of this controversial debate may give us a little less material to write about here at The Spectator, even we can recognize that third-year housing has its potential benefits. The plans for this new housing complex are especially interesting now, as it is possible that this year’s current freshmen class will be affected.
According to Dean Leonard, the new housing complex will not simply be a glorified Graham-Lees. While the overall plans will not be finalized until the Board of Trustees’ next meeting in October, Leonard was able to share some of the likely plans for third-year housing. The layout of the housing complex will feature a variety of apartments and townhouses behind Wilson field, along with multiple common areas, outdoor fireplaces, an outdoor pavilion, a restaurant, and a fitness center. There has also been discussion of placing a solar structure near the new facility that would allow the new residential village to be “near energy neutral,” according to Dean Leonard.
“We want to ensure that students know we’re not building a basic residence hall with regard to this renovation,” Dean Leonard said. “What we’re trying to do is build a more mature living environment for students but also get back to the sense of creating community at Washington and Lee.”
Dean Leonard also emphasized that the school understands that these will be older students living on this complex and that there were will certainly be more freedom than in the freshmen dorms. While the official policies with regards to resident advisors and allowing alcohol in the third-year housing facilities have yet to be worked out, Dean Leonard did state, “The students are going to want to have fun. We know that.”
Only time will tell what public safety’s “easing up” on student on-campus parties will be, but the third-year housing complex that Dean Leonard describes does seem to be a huge step up from a “glorified Graham Lees.” One of the biggest problems with the third-year housing complex, however, is that while every third-year student will be required to live on campus, the new complex will not have enough beds for all of them. This means that some juniors will be relegated to Woods Creek, possibly even for two years in a row.
The complex is set to be built with 332 beds even though the average class size at Washington and Lee typically falls between 450 and 500 each year. Even accounting for juniors who will be abroad, living in Greek housing or serving as resident advisors in freshmen dorms, there will surely be a good number of third-year students that are not able to live in the new complex. The school will conduct a lottery system and those unfortunate enough to not get selected will likely be placed in either Woods Creek or theme housing. Whether or not they will get first pick over sophomore students who would live in these two housing options has yet to be decided.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Washington and Lee has built a housing complex that does not have enough room to accommodate all students eligible to live there. The majority of the sorority houses are built to house about 19 girls despite the fact that each pledge class can have up to about 35 members. This can often create a divisive split among the sorority pledge classes since some girls are able to live in the sorority house while some must live in Woods Creek or theme housing. And I think most would agree that these alternatives (especially Woods Creek) are not exactly equal—just as the alternatives for juniors who do not make the lottery will not be equal to the new third-year housing complex.
The new housing complex will be unlike anything this school has seen before, and does show some promise. Despite placing such an emphasis on community, it seems odd that the school would design a compound that cannot even fit the whole class.