A Look at Swarthmore’s Dorms

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.

Alice Paul

Michael Gorbach ’08, Alice Paul 3rd Floor: “Alice Paul is very clean though it can get dirty fast. The rooms are big and bright and white… the windows are big. There’s not a lot of hall life, hall life for me is basically me and my neighbors, but that’s okay. A lot of seniors and juniors set it up that way and want to live next to each other.”

Melissa Emmerson ’11, Alice Paul 1st Floor: “Alice Paul is very clean but the location isn’t that great in terms of getting to classes because you have to walk up the hill… I would want to live here again. It’s good for people who want a quiet study environment but want to socialize once in a while. It’s not as loud as Willetts or other dorms.”


Madeleine Abromowitz ’10: “Our room is large; we have a lovely view of the woods; the lounge is a nice common space; it’s a convenient distance from all my classes; and not flammable like Parrish. All these rumors about Dana bugs are pure fallacy, I’ve never seen a Dana bug in our room.”

Amy Smolek ’11: “Ugly, yes, but well located and pretty surroundings if you don’t count the actual dorm.”

Jonah Bernhard ’11: “Nobody really knows where the stains in the carpet come from, we do have concrete walls and the halls are windy but the rooms are pretty big and we do have full closets.”

Christine Ernst ’10: “Despite the fact that Dana resembles an unpadded mental institution in hallway construction, it has the benefits of sizable lounges, lovely large windows, and nice views from most rooms. If you’re sensitive to temperature fluctuations, steer clear of tiled rooms on the third floor, where the heat rises during the summer, and tiled floors make it impossible to keep warm in the winter.”

Neda Daneshvar ’10: “Although the cinder block walls are rather prison-like and the hallways somewhat annoyingly twisted, the rooms are spacious, well-lit and comfortable. What I regret about the living situation in Dana is that our lounges aren’t very big or centrally located (some halls don’t even have lounges), as in Willets or Parrish. Still, it’s a nice, relatively quiet dorm, and I’ve enjoyed living here for two years.”


Anonymous ’11:”It always smells like vomit.”

Ashley Werner ’08 attests that it smells less like vomit now than it used to, as the stench does not flood the halls by Monday morning. She says “the winding halls can actually be fun if you take pleasure in jumping out of corners and scaring your friends when you know they are coming.”

Gina Grubb ’10 has lived in Hallowell for two years (going on three) says she has “come to appreciate it even with its faults,” citing bonuses like “great hall life” and “large rooms.” she and Werner agree that the building is ugly, but also that it has great views and is very conveniently located.


As students ponder housing options this April, the little sought-out Lodges are definitely a choice worth considering. Tucked away behind Willets in between Worth and Bond, this set of cottage-like suites is home to 16 sophomores, juniors, or seniors as well as the War News Radio studio. Each individual lodge (of four total) consists of a 1st and 2nd floor one-room double along with a shared bathroom. All rooms may be same-sex or co-ed. In previous years, each lodge consisted of a triple and a double and had access to a shared basement space; this year, however, basement space is being sealed off and occupancy is being reduced from 5 to 4 students per lodge.

Current Lodgers have a very favorable estimation of Lodge life, which is rather different from mainstream Swat dorm living. The actual building is somewhat more isolated and quiet, especially in terms of generic hall life. Jack Keefe ’10 claims that “there isn’t much hall bonding in the normal sense” but occupants of each Lodge “do really get to know each other well.” Willets Cat is also a regular (and favorite) visitor to the Lodges. Keefe believes the feline’s presence “kept [him] sane” for much of the semester.

Aaron Brecher of Lodge 2 says “the Lodges are pretty great in terms of location” and adds that the “private bathroom is fantastic” though the given luxurious bathtub has yet to be fully used. Sophomore G. Patrick appreciates the fact that he “doesn’t have to deal with the general drunkenness and debauchery” on weekend nights, adding that he finds his room “a great place to study or spend a nice night in.” The additional privacy of the Lodge also allows Patrick the freedom to “walk around butt naked all the time.” Visitors take heed.

Most Lodgers entertain no major complaints. Brecher does acknowledge that the dorm has a “lack of printer access” but easily remedies the problem with a quick trip to Willets or Worth. Patrick finds the building cold in the winter and says “hot water is shut off around 2 AM”, making late-night hot showers indulgences impossible. Mostly though, students give the Lodges a very positive review, vastly enjoying its spacious room and little perks.

Check out more about the Lodges and its interesting history at Swarthmore here

Alex List ’09: “I love Mertz, because I think it is the perfect combination. … You can get studying and quiet work done if you want to, but there is also hall life. I like where it is located–Wharton has very loud public spaces, and Mertz doesn’t have that, but it still has a lot of activity going on all the time.”

George Dahl ’08: “Mertz is very close to Sharples, and when the doors between the halls and the lounges are closed, very little sound gets through. The bad? Nothing sticks to the walls, and there is a lot of mud you’ve got to walk through. And the rooms can be a bit small compared to an off-campus dorm like ML or Woolman.”

Mertz is known for housing many freshmen in large doubles, and providing many juniors and seniors with mid-size singles. It can be very difficult to get in to this dorm as a sophomore.


Alison Flamm ’09 Parrish 4th: “The best thing about living in Parrish is certainly the location. 1 minute to Kohlberg, 2 to McCabe, 3 to Sharples…and I love checking mail in my slippers and being able to run down to the Registrar’s office when I have a quick question. Also, Parrish rooms have enough character to have a warmth to them while still feeling simple and open. These things were my priority when I went to the housing lottery last year, so I’m very happy to have ended up here!”

Rohan Parikh ’09 Parrish 4th: “Moving into a single on Parrish 4th this semester, I have only good things to say about the dorm itself. The central location is key, the glistening lights of Philadelphia shine in the distance, and, for those who like variety, there are six staircases to choose from. While hall life has paled in comparison to The Hulk, Wharton AB 3rd, last year, it may just be a natural cycle.”

Palmer, Pittenger, and Roberts [PPR]

Emily Brown ’09 (Roberts): “Great dorm, great rooms. I think 95% of the people living here really love it. I’m a little bitter because we had expectations about getting either singles or on-campus doubles as Juniors, rather than off-campus doubles. Of the PPR’s, I think Roberts is the best.”

Sarah Lopez ’09 (Roberts): “The rooms are beautiful, and it gets exponentially better the more friends you have living near you. What’s really great is the bathrooms. If you have a problem sharing bathrooms, Roberts is the place to be.”

Beth Krone ’09: “I love Roberts!”

Cecelia Osowski ’10: “Roberts is great. We blocked here; as did a lot of our friends. And we have a wonderful kitchen that we all share.

Erik Smith ’10: “There so many blocks here, so you can have all of your friends living with you. The walk is not bad, and the rooms are nice and spacious.”

Melanie Spaulding ’09 (Palmer): “It’s been really quiet here for the most part, but my RA has done a really good job of fostering a nice hall life. I love the rooms, and I’m actually really sad about moving to a (probably) smaller room on campus.”

Nicole Singer ’10: “A far as the doubles go, they’re big and beautiful with wonderful windows. I’m surprised they’re seen as undesirable based on distance alone.”

Mattie Gregor ’10: “Our room is nice because is was windows halfway around the room, it has character, and it’s cozy. We don’t like that it has no carpet, but whatev.”


Kofi Anguah ’09: “I really like the room sizes–I think they are bigger and the large windows we have in our room overlooking the trees between Wharton and Danawell are nice. I also like the fact it is up the hill and in an almost central location. However, we did have some mice problems a while back. And I am lucky to live in Wharton AB, so I don’t have to endure a lot of the partying that takes place in EF.”

Ben Warren ’08: It is very central with good proximity to the woods, has large rooms, and a fantastic courtyard. It is also very secure; I’ve gotten locked out at times and had to call people to let me in. No Willets Windows here. On the negative side, the bathrooms are kind of icky, there are passageways that can let a hallmate’s mice into your room, and the windows are a pain to open or close. I am very pleased with my room, though New Dorm and Willets had hallways more conducive to sociality.”

Brian Tomasik ’09: “I like the fact that it’s relatively close to academic buildings and Sharples; it tends to be pretty noisy on weekends and Thursday nights, though.”

Anne Kolker ’08, RA: “Everyone knows Wharton is *the* place to be. What’s really nice about it is that you have this really wonderful dynamic where you have a lot of seniors in all the singles, and a lot of freshmen in the quads, so you get to impart all your wisdom on these really enthusiastic people.”

Sara McCabe ’11: “I like how the dorm has so many upperclassmen, especially when you’re a freshman, because if you have trouble with your classes you can always find someone who’s already taken the class.”


Alex Pavlisin ’11 – 3rd north: “The hall life is great. It’s very social and you can have your balance of social and quiet place, especially on the 3rd floor which is quieter than the other floors. It’s a lot of people in a small place so it’s like a big family.”

Parth Lakhani ’10 – 1st South: “Living in Willets is awesome. I really like it. I like the way the dorm is designed…it’s really conducive to people being social. Having doors across from each other, or having lounges in the center, and the bathrooms [being on opposites sides of the hall] really makes you meet people. I live on 1st, and honestly, the smell or dirtiness isn’t that bad. I really like my room, though I don’t know if my quad is typical of Willets room. So overall, great place for freshmen and sophomores, though maybe upperclassmen not so much.”

0 thoughts on “A Look at Swarthmore’s Dorms

  • April 15, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Where is Mary Lyon, Strath and Woolman?

  • April 15, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Is there going to be a part 2? Worth, ML, Kyle, Woolman, and Strath all weren’t covered.

  • April 15, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Unfortunately, the Gazette reporter who was going to get quotes on ML and Woolman came down with a case of food poisoning. We’ll try to get that information out at a later date.

  • April 15, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I’m not contesting any of the positive (and very true) comments about Willets, it’s a nice place to live, great location, friendly, social, but I just have to admit that since day one the “smells” were an issue for me… sour, stale, and rotting food smells (hey and occasionally urine) in the hall, stairwells, and in the rooms too if you don’t spray perfume.

  • April 15, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Roberts is the greatest. If only it were on campus….


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