Residents are saying goodbye to Dean Hall as the semester comes to a close. The women-only residential building will not be offered as a housing option next semester.
Neither Residential Life nor Student Affairs could be reached to explain why Dean was closing, but after this article was published, Residential Life reached out in an article comment. The department stated that interest in housing has decreased continually. Only six students resided in Dean this semester. Because of low numbers, Dean will not be listed as a housing option until a plan for the hall is determined in conjunction with other talks on the future of Albion College housing.
“I wish more people [had known] about Dean as a living option, as it is a great house with great potential to build a strong female community,” said Sarah Valiquette, a resident of Dean and sophomore from Grosse Ile, Michigan.
In the past, Dean Hall had operated as a close-knit community for community for women who didn’t feel that they fit into the sorority environment, but wanted a more communal-based living environment compared to living in a regular dormitory.
“Dean Hall will truly be missed. It was a wonderful living option and it housed so many amazing women. I hope the rich history of the house is never lost. Many of my best moments on campus were at Dean Hall,” Brittany Carroll, a senior from Chicago, said.
Dean was unique among housing options for its meal plan obligating women to make and eat dinners together at least five times a week. That model, however, was not maintained this year due to the low number of residents.
“[Dean] has a great history of diversity and inclusivity that is often overlooked as well,” senior Murun Jargal of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, said.
Dean is noted in history by those who live and have lived there as being one of the first places on campus that lesbian couples felt they could live comfortably in, in a place where they could be themselves. At a time, in the past, when it was far more difficult to be accepted as gay on campus, Dean was a retreat of sorts to women in the LGBTQ community.
In this way, Dean has never truly lost its meaning as being a close-knit home for its residents which focuses on the community rather than being a faceless living arrangement as some other housing options, like dorms, are sometimes thought to be.
“Dean always feels like home rather than a college dorm,” said Jargal. “I like the fact that I can stay in Dean all day and have a great day. I have had great conversations with amazing women here and I always feel supported.”
Largely due to its lack of a required campus meal plan, Dean was also notably cheaper for non-seniors than other living options, making it appealing to students who may not be able to afford more expensive buildings.
“It was really fun living there. Especially cooking for ourselves was really fun for me,” Urbi Dwa, a junior of Kathmandu, Nepal, said.
Though many of the current residents of Dean are graduating this year, there are others who are left scrambling to find new arrangements. This was made more difficult because Residential Life did not announce the closing even to Dean residents. Students only found out when they went to to fill out housing selection paperwork. Many presumed that they could live in Dean in the following year.
Of course, current residents are sad to see it go.
“We all felt so welcomed and connected with everybody that lived there. It really felt like home,” Shreeya Aryal, a junior of Kathmandu, Nepal, said.
Updated 4/25/2019, 8:25 p.m.