Students Say Goodbye to Dean Hall, a Housing Option No More

View of Dean Hall from the street. (Photo courtesy of Allyson White.)

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.

Sarah Valiquette in her room in Dean Hall at the beginning of the academic year. Dean Hall was not made available as a housing option for students for the upcoming fall semester. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Valiquette.)

“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.

About Allyson White 8 Articles
Allyson White is a sophomore from New Buffalo, Michigan. She is double majoring in psychology and English and minoring in anthropology. She is a major history buff and loves the humanities, literature (1500's-1800's literature, especially), and environmental science. She spends the greater portion of her time drawing/painting or working on her vegetable garden.

9 Comments

  1. Count me in as a furious alum..my grandma lived at Dean Hall in the 40s, I lived there in the 90s, and our alumni support efforts have always been tolerated at best. Albion College manages to always turn me off to engagement, involvement or inclination to donate. Good luck ever getting cash from me or anyone I know.

  2. I lived in Dean Hall in 1974. It was full of such interesting women. Everyone felt safe there no matter what their story was. The house is a wonderful option for many different reasons. Albion is creative should not be hard to find a way to get students in there. Closing it down seems sad and wasteful. Surely there are students in the county that would jump at the chance with a little help.

  3. The college really needs to explain this move to alums, along with why (if it was done due to low occupancy) the residents and former residents were not given an opportunity to raise awareness about this amazing house.

  4. Each year in preparation for the Room Selection process, the Residential Life Departments calculates an occupancy projection for College owned housing and reviews student interest in current housing options. The number of students interested in living in Dean Hall, a women’s cooperative housing residence hall, has slowly declined over the past couple of years leading to only nine students choosing Dean Hall for Fall 2018 Semester; and only six students resided in Dean Hall Spring Semester 2019. Because of this decrease in interest, Dean Hall was not listed as a housing option in the Room Selection Process for the 2019-2020 academic year. This coming year the Residential Life Department and others at the College will continue discussions started this Semester about future housing needs for Albion. These discussions will provide the opportunity to determine a plan for Dean Hall in conjunction with plans for other student residences for the Fall 2020 and beyond.

  5. Fondin alternative living arrangments at Albion has always been difficult. The college makes it’s
    Money on room and board so they had no incentive to keep it. They knew the outrage, so theyade
    The decision behind closed doors. It is unfortunate. I lived there while I was a student amd have many fond memories.

  6. Sad. I lived there in 1988 with an amazing group of women. The college never quite knew how to embrace and support non cookie-cutter students, especially a bunch of strong, passionate women.

  7. I lived in Dean Hall from 1989-1992. I am shocked to hear that a place that housed some of the most globally-aware, politically-active, intellectually-engaged women is being closed down due to lack of interest by the millennial student body. When I lived there, professors would repeatedly comment that the most engaged and intellectually interesting students lived at Dean. Guest speakers would join us for dinner and conversation during their campus visits. I am only sad that a new generation of Albion student will not get to experience the bonds that we did. We lived, studied, cooked, cried, and thought about the world together through those years and remain eternally bonded as a result of those experiences.

    As a professional historian, can I make a plea to please archive all of the Dean history materials stored at the house? Perhaps one day someone will want to study the disintegration of the co-op and what it says about the growing atomization of our society.

  8. Yes, this is really sad, on many fronts. If Albion College could take innovative, out-of-the-box steps to recover from its enrollment fiasco, there would be plenty of students interested in Dean Hall. The issue is not that students don’t want to cook and clean for themselves. Munger Place (the old Parker Place Hotel, The Mae, and the apartments on Erie Street are all apartments with kitchens. Albion’s residence structure is built for an ideal enrollment of 1,850 to 2,000. But when you’re flailing at around 1,500 students, have a public reputation of being LBGTQ intolerant, do not foster a culture of alternative thinking, actively discourage an off-campus living, et cetera, places like Dean are going to fall silent.

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