By Greg Allen and Jill Campbell
Since the construction of Alumni Hall began on June 5, 1926, it has been an important part of Springfield College’s history. The 450,000 dollar residence hall was paid for by over 1,000 alumni–hence the name Alumni Hall. The hall has been through some interesting times, as it has served as an Army Air Corps base and a World War II naval hospital. But today it is most known as the only all-male dorm on campus.
However, starting in the fall of 2017, Alumni Hall will be a co-ed dorm, making every on-campus housing option co-ed. On Monday, Peter Kapitancek, the Alumni Hall residence director, announced to residents of Alumni Hall via email that the hall will accept sophomore, junior, and senior students of all genders. On Wednesday, Residence Life sent out a campus-wide email titled “We Heard You!” sharing the news.
According to the director of Residence Life, Robert Yanez, the decision to make the dormitory co-ed was originally born out of necessity. Across campus, there are only approximately 12 single rooms for women in traditional housing. There are nearly 170 single rooms for men across campus. Most of these rooms are in Alumni.
“We had students with concerns for options for singles,” Yanez said. “The numbers are so skewed. There are a disproportionate amount of single rooms for males.”
With the change, women students will have more access to single rooms, including co-joined singles, which are unique to Alumni Hall.
Yanez said, “Alumni is the only place on campus with these co-joined singles, and we are only offering them to males. Now there will be equal access.”
The building will be divided by wing, men on one end of the floor and women on the other. Each floor will have a men’s bathroom and a women’s bathroom, “creating easier access to residents and guests alike,” according to the email sent to current Alumni residents.
Yanez stressed the importance of making students aware of the change before room selection so that everyone “has a fair opportunity to select rooms.”
“Students may want to change their senior housing now because it is not what they signed up for,” Yanez said. “We are giving them the opportunity for fair selection.”
Many students are thrilled to hear that Alumni will be a co-ed dorm starting next semester. They think it is an inclusive move by the college and are excited to see the transition.
Sophomore Teresa Goggin said, “I think it’s great to see that, especially after this past election, Springfield College is really striving for equality amongst the men and women of this campus.”
Sophomore Drew Gallant agreed with Goggin noting how important it is to keep up with current times. He said, “Although Alumni has been all-male and traditions are important, we need to make sure we aren’t giving advantages to students over other students based on sex and gender.”
Other students are not thrilled with the change. An Alumni resident who requested to not be named, said “The dorm has been all-male for nearly 100 years. It was a place where guys could be dudes. It will be sad to see the tradition just thrown out the window. However, I can understand why the administration felt it was important to make the building co-ed.”
Tye Mill, a current junior and Alumni Hall resident, saw the change coming. He said, “I imagined that it would happen sooner rather than later. After the renovations, I just had a feeling it would become co-ed. I think the transition is going to be difficult. I think a single-sex dorm is bound to have less problems than a co-ed building. I think it’s going to be more strict now, too.”
As our country has seen a recent push for inclusion for everyone, making Alumni co-ed is one of the many steps Springfield College has taken to follow that path. Earlier this year the college introduced all-gender restrooms in numerous locations throughout campus.
There is no denying that Alumni Hall is one of the most identifying marks of Springfield College’s history due to its unique and old-fashioned architecture. Now the beautiful landmark will be able to be shared with everyone.
“The world is co-ed,” Yanez said. “I think Alumni is beautiful, and I feel it is the definition of a college hall. It’s almost essential to share that beauty with all of our students.”