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.
This year, summer housing will be offered in Willets in conjunction with a mandatory meal plan. The decision to move summer housing to Willets, a dorm with limited air conditioning and kitchen facilities, was primarily chosen for its availability.
“Facilities says what is happening where and then Rachel [Head] and the Dean’s Office have to take a look at all that and all the other constraints on time to try to figure out what works best,” Vice President for Facilities and Capital Projects Stu Hain said.
During the summer, many dorms will be under construction or otherwise occupied.
Facilities plans to continue the renovation of the bathrooms in Mary Lyons, a previous location of summer housing.
Dana and Hallowell will undergo bathroom work as well as other cosmetic work. In addition to these projects, a railroad bridge in the Crum will be under construction 24 hours a day during the summer. According to Stu Hain, this work will likely be very noisy.
Palmer, Pittenger, and Roberts will also be noisy this summer as geothermal wells are drilled in the baseball fields for the new residence hall that will be built behind PPR. Additional geothermal wells will be drilled behind DuPont parking lot for the new academic building next to the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. According to Hain, this will likely cause some noise concerns for the Lang Center interns living in Kyle for the summer.
Ashton House will house students working in the Admissions Office.
Students in the Swarthmore Summer Scholars program will be housed in Parrish and students from summer camps will be housed in Alice Paul, David Kemp, Wharton, and Mertz.
Other considerations were also important in determining the location for summer housing. The Office of Student Engagement wanted students to be able to move directly into summer housing at the end of the semester. According to Amy Vollmer, chair of the Biology Department, science faculty members have been asking for students to be able to move directly into summer housing for many years.
The Dean’s Office also considered which dorms house the fewest number of seniors. Dorms with more seniors would have less space available for students to move into directly from spring housing. Additionally, all rooms must be cleaned before Alumni Weekend, which happens a week after commencement.
“Truly, this summer, there were no other realistic options for summer housing […] The OSE and Facilities reviewed every single possible option to make sure there weren’t better alternatives,” Assistant Dean and Director for Student Engagement Rachel Head wrote in an email.
According to Head, summer housing will likely only remain in Willets for one to two years. Also, although the Swarthmore Summer Housing website says that only doubles will be offered over the summer, Head said that a small number of singles will be available and depending on the number of people who sign up for summer housing, some “dingles” (double rooms with one occupant) may be a possibility.
Although Willets itself is not air-conditioned, Mephistos, Willets’ main lounge, does have air conditioning. Hain said that when summer housing was in Mary Lyons, students would often sleep in the air-conditioned lounge on hot nights.
Willets also has limited kitchen facilities, and so the OSE decided to institute a mandatory meal plan.
“We did not feel that Willets had enough kitchen facilities to comfortably support residents cooking full meals for themselves for the entire summer. Several years ago, maybe 5 or 6, we tried a meal plan with the summer students in ML and got mixed reviews,” Head wrote in an email.
The meal plan will consist of 40 meals that can be used any time Sharples is open during the summer. When Sharples is open will depend on the timing of summer programs offered on campus. Students on the meal plan will receive a schedule of all the times Sharples will be open. According to Dining Services Director Linda McDougall, there will be food available for students with dietary restrictions.
The plan also includes $195 in points, which can be used at Essie’s and other locations open during the summer. The summer hours for Essie’s will be 9am-2pm Monday through Friday.
“The summer plan offers flexibility and allows students to have a plan that would not be their only method for meals, but that it would be a great supplement to their needs, with the hopes to accommodate student’s schedules,” McDougall wrote in an email.
Student reactions to summer housing and the mandatory meal plan have been mixed.
“It’s been a mixed bag. Some students are happy about being on center campus. Others are less than happy about the meal plan,” Head wrote. “Our job is to advocate for the needs of the students but we have to be able to adjust certain times when the impact of a certain location would negatively impact others.”
Some students, however, think summer housing is a downgrade from previous years. Emma Remy ‘18 lived in summer housing last year, which was in Mertz and Parrish.
“I had air conditioning. I had a single. It was great; I cooked for myself all summer and that was like the best part of the summer […] If I stayed on campus this summer I wouldn’t have any of that,” Remy said.
Another major concern for Remy about summer housing this year was the increased cost. For international students, students working on campus, and other students otherwise not receiving a $4,350 stipend, the increase in housing costs may present a challenge.
At least in the IT department, “As housing prices increase, the salary isn’t increasing at the same rate,” Remy said.
Head said that the number of people applying for summer housing in 2015 was an increase from previous years. In light of student concerns for this summer, it remains to be seen whether or not this trend will continue this year.