Almost 90 percent of Andover students returned to campus this spring, creating unprecedented scenarios for accommodating boarding students while attempting to follow Covid-19 regulations, especially in the case of one-room doubles and tight housing. As there are no visitors allowed on campus this term, the Andover Inn now accommodates 14 Juniors, 12 Lowers, and two prefects.
According to Emiliano Caceres Manzano ’22, prefecting in the Andover Inn feels very different from his prefecting experience in the Fall Term. In general, Caceres Manzano finds that prefecting is about being there for the underclassmen as much as possible. In the Inn, he finds it harder to “lure” students out of their rooms for more dorm engagement.
“Aside from the accommodations, I think the dorm is pretty normal. We’ve got the normal challenges of bonding and getting to know each other, but we all have at least the common denominator of living somewhere we’re very happy to live. The weirdest thing is definitely the fact that the doors lock, which makes it harder to socialize, but every time I step into the dorm, I get reminded of how lucky I am. We also have a great house counseling team that is doing a great job making the dorm feel like home with munches and activities,” said Caceres Manzano.
While residents in the Andover Inn are mostly Juniors and new Lowers, some students feel lucky to be placed in the Inn. Jonathan Ji ’24, who has lived in a boarding school in the past, saw the accommodations in the Andover Inn as a significant improvement to his previous dorm experience.
“So my frame of reference in terms of living in a dorm solely comes from my junior boarding school experience. And I have to say that this is a lot nicer. Not only do I not have a roommate, but the best part is that I have my own bathroom,” said Ji.
Like Ji, Leo Peters ’24, a Junior who lives in one of the few doubles in the Andover Inn, described this experience as “unreal.”
“There are so many perks: luxurious hotel rooms (with art from the Addison, armchairs, hotel beds), climate control, private bathrooms…I could go on for a while. Every morning I wake up in my 2000-thread-count bedsheets and memory foam pillows and feel so lucky to live in the best dorm on campus,” wrote Peters in an email to The Phillipian.
However, despite these privileges of the Inn, many identified the difficulty for frequent social interactions in the building since the rooms are more isolated and students are more tempted to stay in their rooms, according to Caceres Manzano.
“It is very different from other dorms, it’s very self contained. So you have really everything you need in your own room. The doors lock automatically, you have to open with a room key. And so in a way, it’s a little bit hard to build a community across the dorm,” said Caceres Manzano.
Similar to Caceres Manzano, Carlos Cepeda-Diaz ’23 expressed concerns in terms of building connections with other people in the Inn due the building’s set up.
“I’d say it’s easy to lock yourself in your room and forget about other things. There are some people that really only leave their dorm to get dinner or to go to the bathroom and so, half of their social interaction has been cut out. So that’s true, especially during quarantine, you really didn’t see anybody, because you wouldn’t pass by in the hallways,” said Cepeda-Diaz.
Kiefer Ebanks ’23 found this setup to be less isolating than his dorm in Fall Term, Fuess House. In the Inn, Ebanks finds that the students do not separate themselves into their respective grade level as much as in Fuess.
“This term has actually been really nice, we had everybody down in the common room, and we were all just talking and hanging out. So, I’d say it’s pretty mixed, everybody’s just friends here, and it’s actually really nice,” said Ebanks.
The prefects, Caceres Manzano and Chenault Ellis ’22, and the House Counselors, organized several dorm-bonding activities after the quarantine period. To Caceres Manzano, these events have been important for getting the dorm outside and together.
“We had an Easter egg hunt the weekend we got out of quarantine, and we had stuff all around the outside and the inside. And then we were gonna have a munch and some movies. We had a Dominos munch, and we bought some games, spike ball and frisbee, with the dorm fund,” said Caceres Manzano.
Ji also commented on how people could still connect really well despite the challenges brought by the building’s layout. Students are able to bond in the lobby area of the Inn, where a few accommodations are provided.
“People go to other people’s rooms. There’s this 50-inch TV downstairs that we hook the switch up to, and we played [Super Mario Smash Bros] last night. It was really fun. People also play cards downstairs together, so it’s pretty lively in the evening, to be honest,” said Ji.