Rolling Knoll: Pine Knoll’s “Migrating Munches” Build Community

Pine Knoll’s rotating munches have been a Winter Term tradition since 2007.

Instead of bundling up and trudging through the snow across the Knoll to 1924 House, the typical venue of Pine Knoll’s weekly cluster munches, students have the opportunity this term to attend a munch hosted by one of the cluster’s five dorms.

In the winter of 2007, Aya Murata, Associate Director of College Counseling and former Pine Knoll Cluster Dean, proposed “Migrating Munches” in which each Pine Knoll dorm hosts one cluster munch during the Winter Term.

“I was always thinking about ways to build community and increase cluster munch attendance, and so I floated this idea at Cluster [Counsel], and the kids were on board and the rest is history,” wrote Murata in an email to The Phillipian.

The migrating munch tradition has continued since Murata’s tenure. David Gardner, Pine Knoll Cluster Dean and Instructor in English, reflected on the ability of the rotating munches to promote cluster community.

“It shakes up the winter routine… It’s great to see students who might not frequently go to munches pop into their own common room and say hello to their cluster peers,” wrote Gardner in an email to The Phillipian.

Shree Menon ’20, Pine Knoll Cluster Co-President, finds that the rotating munches provide a change of pace from the regular munch routine.

“Winter can be a little rough and a little isolating on campus. But having rotating munches, having that one time a week where everybody can come together and have a little change in their routine could be something that could go a long way,” said Menon.

Fellow Pine Knoll Cluster Co-President Karen Sun ’20 considered the potential comfort of having a cluster munch in one’s own dorm. According to Sun, this model has led to new levels of fellowship in the cluster.

Sun said, “Seeing people that you don’t really see at munches [in 1924 House], while being able to see people completely comfortable in the space that they own… I think that level of comfort allows people to connect on a more intimate and more casual level instead of being in a space that, you know, is a very communal [and] very labeled space for the cluster instead of for you.”

Former Pine Knoll Cluster Co-President Angelreana Choi ’19 believes that the rotating structure incentivizes students to attend munches. According to Choi, the varying dorm locations allow students to interact with more members of Pine Knoll.

“Even though I love 1924 House as a cozy, communal space, I think rotating munches give Knollers the opportunity to see what other dorms in the cluster are like, and it also just brings new sets of people to munches—people who might not typically go on Wednesdays—so it’s always nice to see new groups of people and individuals getting to know each other,” said Choi.

Kennedy Smith ’22 reflected on her time last year in Nathan Hale House, where she was able to connect with upperclassmen at her dorm’s cluster munch. This year, she looks forward to the cluster munch that will take place in Henry L. Stimson House.

“[The rotating munches were] the one reason why I really enjoyed the Knoll as a [Junior] because there were no other [Junior] dorms, so I had to talk to the upperclassman or I was going to be lonely in the munches, so I met a whole bunch of Uppers and Seniors who I wouldn’t have met if there were other [Junior] dorms or other [Junior] people in the Knoll,” said Smith.

According to Gardner, students find ways to embrace their dorm spirit with their one opportunity to host the other members of the cluster.

“I think students take pride in welcoming their fellow Pine Knollers into their dorm, many of whom might be getting to see the inside of the dorm for the first time. And each of the munches in different dorms feels special—there are plenty of cluster munches in 1924 House but only one in each dorm,” wrote Gardner.

As a Junior, Isabella Alvarez ’23 appreciates the opportunity to explore more of the Andover campus and believes the rotating schedule is a fun way to make the cluster feel more connected.

“I think the Knoll has a very tight knit community, and the rotating munches really allow for new connections, and you really get to know your surroundings more. For me, I have never been in any other house in the Knoll, so I think it is a very fun experience,” said Alvarez.