Phillipian Commentary: The New Lower Isolation Policy

Recently, the administration revealed plans for several housing changes. Instead of placing Lowers in upperclassmen dorms, the school would place Lowers, both new and returning, in traditionally Junior-only dorms. I’ve spent the last two weeks pondering over this policy change. At first, I thought it was some sort of joke, that a policy like this would never get implemented because it seemed so ludicrous. However, as the news sunk in, I began to feel upset and defensive on behalf of myself and the incoming new Lowers.

Coming in as a new Lower, I shared the same worries as most new students. I was nervous about getting good grades, meeting new friends, and trying out clubs and extracurriculars. Yet, I also had to worry about assimilating into my class, a grade that had already spent a year together developing their own cliques. Being placed into a large upperclassmen dorm helped with that, because I was able to meet people from different grades, backgrounds, and social groups, all by simply walking ten feet from my room into the common room.

New Lowers already have a fear of being isolated from the rest of the grade—placing them with Juniors will not do anything but increase the isolation because of lack of exposure to returning students. If the administration places new Lowers with Juniors, they might as well be Juniors in everything but name. Without specific evidence or detailed studies that indicate new Lowers would assimilate best when placed in small dorms with Juniors, there appears to me to be only a down side in this implementation. Did the administration even consult any new Lowers on whether or not this was a good idea? Based on the feedback I have heard from peers, if there was a poll of the opinions of new lovers on this policy change, I believe that the vast majority would be against it.

According to an article published in The Phillipian, Mr. Mundra identified a key reason for this change is that it gives Lowers, both returning and new, leadership opportunities, yet there are significant flaws with this idea. First of all, based on my interactions, almost no returning Lower would want to live in a dorm consisting of only new students. Many returning Lowers tend to want to stick with the comfort of their friend groups, applying to live in the same cluster or stacking a dorm. New Lowers are also generally unqualified for such leadership or mentorship opportunities in these dorms because they are still establishing their own identities, and requiring that they play the part of a standard-bearer may place undue stress and burdens on these students.

Even with the current system, new Lowers struggle to assimilate with their grade during their first few weeks or months on campus. Indeed, many new Lowers tend to have friend groups that consist of only fellow new Lowers. It’s evident this divide still exists, so the question is, why is the school widening the gap?