An inside look at Willets, Mertz, Alice Paul, and Mary Lyons

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The housing lottery is rushing towards us. Swarthmore students can only live in a handful of our many dorms, however, and it can be hard to pick. To help you make a decision, Gazette reporters tracked down inhabitants of many dorms on campus to get an insider’s view of what these dorms are like.

Today, the Gazette is glancing at a few more of the most popular dorms.

Dana, Hallowell, Worth, Lodges, Parrish, and Kyle were explored in yesterday’s Gazette.


Dogus Cubuk, ’10: “There are many people and the underclassman to upperclassman ratio is high so you can socialize since freshman, who have doubles and are more interested in meeting people, socialize more than upperclassman, who tend to have singles and stay in their rooms. There are also big common rooms for hall soccer.”

Sarah Emlen Metz, ’09: “There’s always freshman around and they tend to have more energy and not be cynical which is very refreshing.”

Cara Arcuni, ’09: “The rooms are small and if you’re looking for quiet, this is not the place for you but it’s nice to have such an easily accessible community… You can always look outside your door and see everyone that’s there and it really helps if you want a community to chat with!”

Liz Brown, ’09: “The width of the hallways is very nice, it really facilitates hall life.”

Yile Li, ’10: “What I like? I’m always able to find somebody in the hall. Dislike? Being able to hear everyone on the hall.”


Mertz residents commented on relatively nice facilities and a convenient location. Laura Post ’09 said, “I like Mertz because it has proximity to campus but it’s not in the thick of things; it’s very close to Sharples and the train station. You have to walk up those stairs everyday, but it’s a good form of exercise!”

Jack Keefe ’10 agreed, saying that, “For all the terrible stresses of Swarthmore, I’m happy I ended up in Mertz. The rooms in general tend to be fairly nice and big, the bathrooms don’t get really gross, and there’s a huge hall life but people aren’t having Margaritaville fests or orgies in the second-floor lounge. If my chances weren’t next-to-nil, I’d definitely live here again next year–being a sophomore sucks!”

Alice Paul

Alice Paul residents gushed even more than Mertz residents. Aleta Hong ’09 loves living in Alice Paul because “the facilities are probably some of the nicest on campus. Hall life is friendly and fairly social, but not noisy. I suppose the big question right now relates to construction… [but] if you’re not someone who spends a lot of time in your room during the day it’s really not a problem.”

Randall Johnston ’09 wants to marry Alice Paul, which “has an innocence to it that only a relatively untouched dorm can radiate. It is free of pests, be they mice, lice, or raucous, vomiting freshmen. Alice Paul has all the qualities of the calm, quiet, moral, family-friendly suburban life, without being on the other side of the tracks. Let’s face it: Alice Paul is that happy mixture of solid granite there-for-you and enchanted far-off distance you want in a mate-er, dorm.”

Mary Lyons

Mary Lyons is a dorm that seems to be either loved or hated by its residents. Adam Yie ’09 explained that ML has “a wonderful community. The rooms and breakfast is lovely, and the private bathrooms are really nice,” but he lamented that the dorm’s combination of “social stigma and undeserved reputation as ‘far away'” keep people from visiting.

Roseanna Sommers ’10 presented an alternate viewpoint. While she loved “Saturday morning breakfasts-you get really good food in your PJs, and you can even entice people into visiting,” she said that it was “nearly impossible to participate in ML and campus community life.” More importantly, because the dorm is a fifteen minute walk from most of campus you have to “always ask whether or not it is worth it to walk to a lecture on campus, or back for an umbrella, or textbook. Basically, every inconvenience you have is multiplied due to the walk.”

Adam suggested that “people who want a place which is evocative of a home” would particularly enjoy ML, while Roseanna suggested the dorm for people who “like a separation between home and school, enjoy the walk, or like to be able to have both social and alone-time.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!