Incoming freshmen will have to become familiar with a very different housing department at GW.
While this fall marks the debut of the Potomac House, a new 379-bed freshman residence hall, it is just one of many changes to campus housing this summer.
The GW Housing Programs, formerly called the Community Living and Learning Center, is in the process of restructuring the entire department just in time for freshman to choose housing.
In January, CLLC announced that community facilitators, positions that were similar to resident advisers, would be replaced with house proctors in freshman dorms, house scholars in sophomore dorms and house mentors in junior and senior dorms.
In the past, CFs focused on reporting students for disciplinary action, such as liquor, drug and noise violations. Under the new class-specific system, house proctors will try to help freshmen solve conflicts, assess their own skills and learn how to better represent themselves in different aspects of life, from roommate conflicts to political discussions. House scholars will help sophomores identify and secure internships and take advantage of study abroad. House mentors, a position that can be filled only by a full-time graduate student, will help upperclassmen prepare for personal and professional success after graduation.
“(The CLLC staff) responded to my challenge to begin thinking creatively about how we could make our residential system more accommodating to addressing the personal, academic, social, self development and career planning needs of our students,” Robert Chernak, vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, wrote in an e-mail.
Rebecca Sawyer, GW Housing Programs’ assistant dean of students, said that due to the success of the Living and Learning Communities – groups of students who share common interests and live together – GW Housing Programs is expanding on the idea by assigning themes to freshman dorms. Certain interests characterize each freshman residence hall and themed Living and Learning Cohorts – the new name for what were formerly Living and Learning Communities – will be created by the students of each floor, she said.
For example, the Potomac House will be a culture and arts-themed house while Thurston hall is divided into two houses. One will be politics and public policy-themed and the other will have a theme of global perspectives and diplomacy. The entire Mount Vernon Campus has been dubbed the “Science Village.”
As opposed to previous years where freshmen chose their specific dorms, Sawyer said, this year’s freshmen fill out a 30-question form prioritizing their interests.
Based on freshman housing applications, the newly constructed Potomac House is the most popular freshman dorm, Sawyer said. The rooms are doubles with a shared bathroom between four suitemates.
“At this point, Potomac House has received the most interest with over 1,500 students listing it as their first or second preference,” wrote Seth Weinshel, Director of the GW Housing Program, in an e-mail.
Due to city restrictions, all freshmen and sophomores must be housed on campus, causing the 450-bed Hall on Virginia Avenue to be used as graduate housing, said Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz.
To make up for lost space, the first floor of Fulbright Hall, the former home of CLLC and Student Judicial Services, is being renovated for student housing use. Student Judicial Services and the GW Housing Programs have relocated to campus townhouses.
While Potomac House may be the most-requested dorm, some rising sophomores said they would not trade their Thurston experience for living in a new dorm freshman year.
“I lived in a quad in Thurston, and I loved it,” said sophomore Emily Aden. “I had the best time in Thurston and would live there again, even if I had the option of Potomac House.”
-Kaitlyn Jahrling and Brandon Butler contributed to this report