Three years ago, the First Year Village was just an idea in the minds of students, faculty, staff, and administration. The first building of the Village, Pagliaro Selz Hall (commonly known as P-Selz), was up and running in fall of 2016. Only about a third of the first-years of 2016, the class of 2020, got to live in the fancy, new, hotel-like building. Pagliaro Selz is set up in a way where one must walk through all common rooms in order to get to their dorm room. The two buildings that followed, Trustees Hall and Fireside Hall, have been built in similar ways, although each have their own unique features. Some of these features include a dance studio and game room in Trustees Hall, and a demo kitchen (where students can film themselves cooking) in Fireside Hall. Now that the first-year village is complete, it is interesting to discover what the new first-years and their Residential Assistants (RAs) think about their new homes.
Many first-years have been asked about community in the First-Year Village, given that it is exclusive to one class of students. “It’s good because everyone knows each other, but at the same time, it feels a little bit isolating,” says resident Sal Suarez. When asked to explain how it felt isolating, he said that he believed the First-Year Village is a very big bubble and that the only upperclassmen he knows are those he has classes with. “I have absolutely no upperclassmen friends,” he says. He admits that it may be mostly due to it only being his first month of college, but he also feels that he could have already become friends with some of those upperclassmen were he not living in Fireside Hall.
For first-year Julia Gazzola, living in the First-Year Village has been a great experience so far. “I think living in the First-Year Village brings all [of us] together and gives us a sense of community,” which is what the the First-Year Village strives to do. Julia is a member of the Women’s Lacrosse team, so when asked if she felt isolated from upperclassmen, she said that for her, it did not feel very isolating because she gets to be on a team with women in all different class years. She understands, however, that if someone is not very involved, the First-Year Village could be isolating for them.
Interviewing RA Antonia Pettit (’20), provided an upperclassman perspective. Antonia was part of the first cohort to live in Pagliaro Selz back in the fall of 2016. She then became an RA in P-Selz last year, fall 2017, and is now an RA in Trustees Hall. “I loved it! It felt like a great community, although it seemed harder to get to know people my freshman year when first-years lived in [other dorms],” she says about her first year at Goucher. Since being an RA, she has observed many friendships developing in the First-Year Village halls and connections between first-years there developing sooner, even more so than through clubs and out-of-class activities.
The one flipside that Antonia touched on was that she felt that some first-years had not thought about the privilege that they have being able to live in such housing. As a result, their expectations after entering college and living in such beautiful dorms were skewed. Some anger towards Goucher has come from students who have had a chance to live in the First-Year Village and then have had to move into dorms such as Stimson Hall or Mary Fisher Hall, where the living situation is not nearly as high-end as in P-Selz.
Evan Vann, a current first-year who lives in Fireside Hall, has enjoyed calling the First-Year Village his home. Like Julia, he believes it is a home with a good community and positive vibe. “It took a bit of time to get everyone comfortable with each other, but it’s starting to come together really well,” Evan said about his building and floor. He has not felt very isolated from upperclassmen because he knows that there are on-campus opportunities, such as clubs, to get out of the first-year bubble. Evan was one of the first freshmen interviewed to say that they have gotten to know a good number of upperclassmen without the help of being on an athletic team.
Overall, according to the freshmen interviewed, the First-Year Village has many great qualities and only a few negative ones. Most of them have enjoyed living there so far and believe that its proximity to the dining hall, Sports Recreation Center, and Academic Quad is well thought out. While they may not be able to live in the more historic dorms at Goucher and mix with upperclassmen that way, they do get to be a part of an important community environment in the newer buildings. While evaluating the First-Year Village now, after the opening of Fireside and Trustees Hall, was a must, The Quindecim will be checking back up on first-year impressions at the end of the year.