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.
So you’ve just gotten your dorm assignment. You’re no doubt in a frenzy exchanging nervous and polite messages with your roommate, Facebook stalking your soon-to-be hallmates, and attempting to judge the sincerity of your RA’s enthusiasm. But how will you learn more about the dorms themselves? Grouped roughly by proximity to one another, here are dorm profiles:
Alice Paul/David Kemp
Swarthmore’s two newest dorms are located at the bottom of the hill, between Mertz and the train station. We’ve heard AP/DK referred to as a “Target meets a Children’s Hospital,” but that’s only because it’s often so sanitary you wouldn’t believe college students live there. AP and DK both feature large doubles with linoleum floors that can get chilly in the colder months. It’s a bit of a hike to get up the hill to classes, but the walk to Sharples is short and flat as a pancake. The air conditioning is a bonus during the warmer months at Swat. The first floor lounge of AP and second floor lounge of DK are popular party and gathering spaces, and the courtyard and grill between the dorms are little-known but charming amenities.
Mertz is situated near the bottom of the hill between AP/DK and Willets. The dorm is home to many social gatherings and a favorite hangout for the rugby teams, but doors between the lounges and rooms insulate the sound well. Each floor has a lounge and kitchen and the rooms vary in size from small ballroom to large broom closet. Mertz is a short walk away from Cunningham Fields and Sharples. Mertz Field (dubbed “Mertz Swamp” in the muddier months) stands in front of Mertz and AP/DK and is a popular spot for impromptu games of Frisbee, soccer, or Quidditch.
What Willets lacks in cleanliness, it makes up for in social life and social areas. In addition to spacious lounges on every floor, there’s a large adjoining lounge to the dorm known as Mephistos. All freshmen doubles are fairly large and approximately the same shape. Rooms on the first, second, and third floors have large windows, and the basement houses the largest kitchen in the dorm. Additionally, Willets just got renovated bathrooms over the summer so you can shower in (a bit more) style. Willets has an exciting combination of loud parties and poor sound insulation, so you’re never away from the fun (and noise)! Earplugs are a good idea if you’re a light sleeper or like to sleep early, especially on weekends.
The only off-campus dorm with freshmen, ML is a ten to fifteen minute walk from the middle of campus, but some residents bring bikes. Shuttle service is available from ML to Parrish Circle early in the morning and early to late evening. Although the distance can be a pain, the relative isolation encourages its residents to bond with one another. Freshmen assigned to ML are guaranteed on-campus housing for sophomore year, although some are ultimately wooed back by ML’s palatial rooms, private bathrooms, and close-knit hall life. ML’s weekly humans vs. zombies Nerf gun wars make it the place to be on Friday night. The lockers in the basement of Parrish are available to ML residents, which means that you won’t need to carry a heavy backpack to and from campus. And three words: Mary Lyon Breakfast. Yum.
Smack in the middle of campus, Parrish’s location is hard to beat. The third and fourth floors are residential while the first two floors are home to the administration. Parrish is the only dorm to be separated by gender. In both floors, the east wing is all female and the west wing is all male. The halls are wide, and the third floor has tall ceilings. In addition to Shane Lounge and Parrish Parlors located on the first floor, the residential floors each have a large lounge. The great thing about the lounge on Parrish 4th is that it’s just a few steps away from The Daily Gazette’s office! Additional bonus: you can get your mail in your PJs and be back in bed in less than five minutes.
Sometimes referred to as the classiest dorm, Wharton is split into three sections (AB, CD, and EF), one of which is seniors only. Reaching another section requires walking outside, so most dorm bonding occurs within these sections rather than in the dorm as a whole. And boy do these dorms bond – they are home to some of the most popular hall crawls on campus. Wharton has several basements which clubs and groups often sign out for parties. The virtually secret Wellness Lounge is located in the Wharton C basement. The rooms are large, and many freshmen (and some upperclassmen) in Wharton live in quads, which are a combination of connected singles, doubles, and triples. Wharton is only a few minutes away from Sharples and Parrish. It’s almost universally agreed that Wharton is one of the most sought-after dorms. So congrats to the 2018s who snag a spot here!
Referred to collectively as “Danawell,” these nearly identical dorms are next Wharton and are nestled into the woods.The rooms are decently sized and face either the Crum or the courtyard in front of the dorms. The basements are the only floors in Danawell with lounges. As a result, social life tends to be minimal on the upper levels. This year, Danawell will be undergoing a renovation project to join the dorms together. While the early morning construction might disturb your beauty sleep, look at the bright side: you’ll never miss a morning class!