Earlier this week I dropped in on a friend to catch up after summer break. He asked me how I was enjoying the Ivy, with not a little bitterness. I, of course, feeling lucky to have landed a spot in these university-owned apartments, responded that I loved it. He then proceeded to grumble about the notion of sophomores living in the Ivy and lamented his time spent there--he lived in the apartments during his junior year when Hopkins still leased half the building to upperclassmen. His criticisms, while perhaps made with a touch of envy, are far from unfounded.
Those of you who have visited or lived in the Ivy or Homewood know that these apartments are less than humble for the typical college student. Those who are lucky to get a lottery number high enough to reserve a space in these coveted residences have the luxury of a large living room, two full bathrooms and a kitchen; moreover, a resident of these exclusive flats has the option to be off the meal plan and thus would pay significantly less per semester relative to other sophomore housing in Wolman or McCoy. I am fully content with this living situation, but at the same time it has undermined the purpose of the residency requirement and left many upperclassmen angry at being "kicked off" campus.
Many schools, especially ones as small as Johns Hopkins, provide, if not require, housing for four full years. This creates a sense of community, not just within one class, but also between classes. It also increases the safety of students and makes certain administrative tasks easier. A lot of learning is done in dormitories--from tolerance of other people and their living styles to social skills and patience. I know my time as a freshman was an exercise in all of these areas. More importantly, you also meet people who you will know, love, hate and work with for the next four years. This time is crucial, and ideally, the more extended the time, the better the experience.
Without the option of living on campus, many older students become alienated from school, both geographically and socially. With complexes like Ivy, Homewood and Bradford, Hopkins certainly has residences appropriate and desirable for upperclassmen.
Then the question turns to the pesky sophomores like myself who inhabit the apartments. Every year Hopkins is accepting more students than it has room for--now especially evident from the acquired Hopkins Inn for freshman girls and the huge amount of triples in Buildings A and B. An obvious solution to this would be to build more housing. Another freshman dorm on campus, a suggestion of my close friend, would solve a lot of problems. If you can fit all freshmen on the quad, it will increase the class sense of unity--achieving the residency requirements goals. Moreover, it will open up more space in Wolman and McCoy for sophomores. And, viola! Once again, juniors and seniors have the option of living on campus.
I am by no means complaining about living in Ivy, and I'm not so sure how I'll feel about living off-campus next year. Many students anticipate moving off, really getting their "own place." Others enjoy being more integrated into the University; these are the students that should have the option of living in university-owned apartments. In future years, it can even be considered an investment to start constructing new dormitories and apartment buildings -- after all, Charles Village isn't that large and class sizes are increasing. One day, not next year or the one after that, sophomores may even be out of a place to live. I'd hate to see that day, because living on campus really is part of the college experience.