Starting Fall 2012, residential life at Duke will see a major change.
After nearly three years of planning, the University will transition away from its current quadrangle model to the house model. The house model will feature approximately 70 affiliated and unaffiliated houses—49 on West Campus and up to 23 on Central Campus, said Joe Gonzalez, associate dean for residence life. The houses will vary in size, with smaller houses accommodating between 20 and 30 students and larger houses with 60 to 90 students. Thirty houses will provide space for existing affiliated groups, which include both fraternities and selective living groups.
Under the house model, East Campus will remain a freshmen-only campus, though sophomores, juniors and seniors will be invited to live in their house for up to three years, Gonzalez said.
During RoomPix of their freshman year, affiliated rising sophomores will be placed in their corresponding houses, and unaffiliated students will be placed randomly, Gonzalez said. Residential groups will still conduct recruitment programs similar to the current process.
It has yet to be determined where various selective living groups will be living across campus. Reseidence Life and Housing Services officials have said “best fit” and a group’s historic ability to recruit and retain members will be the two main factors in determining where groups are assigned.
Keohane 4E Quadrangle—opening Spring 2012—was built with the house model in mind. K4 will accommodate two houses: one of 60 students and one of 90 students, RLHS administrators have confirmed.
Decisions such as whether students will be able to switch houses after a year or live in the same room in consecutive years will be discussed soon. Administrators will try to place students returning from semesters abroad in their former houses but cannot guarantee that will be possible.
The blocking system will be preserved under the new model, though Gonzalez noted that blocks will have to be smaller, accommodating between four and six students, in order to avoid potential domination of one block in a small house.
The University’s shift to a house model has precedent on campus. Throughout the 1970s, Duke’s residential model was a house-style system. It was in 1995, when the University converted East into an all-freshmen campus, that a transition away from the house model began. The University adopted the current quadrangle model in 2002.
Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, were the two driving forces behind the University’s return to a new and improved house model. The objectives of the model are three-fold, focusing on community, equality and autonomy within the houses. Nowicki said, emphasizing
The goal of the house model is to raise the residential experience of all students to the level that residentially affiliated students have historically encountered and yet maintain the experience of affiliated groups, Nowicki said.
This shift in residential culture has proven to be a collaborative effort between students and administrators. A working group for the house model, which is composed of both three student subcommittees and administrators, has been working closely with the House Model Student Working Group to consider their input as the transition to the house model begins. This student committee is comprised of independent students as well as representatives from Interfraternity Council, National Panhellenic Council, Inter-Greek Council and Selective House Council.