Freshman Divide

Lauren McCarthy

Think back to your first tour of Villanova. You walked by Mendel Field, gaped at the chapel and peeked into a classroom in Bartley. Then you were led across Lancaster Avenue to South Campus. “Take a good look,” your tour guide said. “This will be your home for freshman year.” However, for about 350 freshmen, this is not the case. When the long-awaited room assignments appeared on NOVASIS in mid-August, these freshmen found out that they would be living on Main Campus, giving many mixed emotions.

“I was excited because I knew I would be closer to everything, but I was disappointed because I knew most freshmen would be on South,” freshman Jane Flanagan says.

With a great majority of the freshman class living on South Campus, it would seem that those on Main were doomed for social exile. In Stanford Hall alone there are approximately 500 freshman residents. However, on Main Campus, the largest freshman-only residence hall is Delurey Hall, with only 85 residents.

“Living in Stanford means that there are automatically 500 people close to you at all times,” freshman Niamh Cloughley says. “It’s a great way to meet people, and it has helped in finding places to go because a lot of freshmen go to the same type of events.”

However, while you meet someone new every night on South Campus, you may not necessarily know the name of the girl living across the hall from you. On Main Campus, students have found that their halls have a more close-knit bond due to the smaller size.

“A great thing about our smaller dorm is the homey-feeling,” says freshman Maura Dolan, a resident of O’Dwyer Hall. “Everyone in our dorm is really close, and we always hang out together. I feel like I’ve known my best friends here longer than I actually have. It’s really nice to be forced to bond right off the bat in a smaller dorm.”

Dolan’s neighbor, John Storey of Simpson Hall, agrees with her sentiments.

“Main has substituted quality for quantity,” Storey says. “I have a lot of great friends from Simpson that I know really well; however, the number of kids I know is limited. But living in a small dorm enabled me to get a better feel for the school by knowing people on a more personal level. However, if it ever gets too dull on Main, South is just a 10-minute walk, so it’s not a big deal.”

Living in Simpson, Storey also had to deal with the shock of being placed in an all-male dorm.

“It was a difficult adjustment to make initially, but many of the kids have really welcomed the idea, and we do a lot of guy-oriented things,” he said. “We play flag football, watch ‘Boondock Saints’ and go to the gym together.”

While the freshmen on Main may be living under different circumstances than the majority of their classmates, there is one freshman who had to make a bigger adjustment than anyone else. John Marrah is the only freshman living on West Campus, as a resident in St. Mary’s Hall. However, Marrah makes the best of his situation.

“I have felt pretty isolated, but it allows me to get my work done and focus on what’s important,” Marrah says. “We have a solid group of kids that get together and jam until the wee hours of the morning.”

When asked if he would stay on West or move to South if given the option, Marrah has a simple answer: “The Wild Wild West, any day. Nothing can touch this place.”

Marrah’s desire to remain on West Campus provokes an interesting thought. At a glance, the differences between the Main and South Campuses seem to be all about proximity. Everything seems to be on Main Campus; however, most of the freshmen seem to be on South. Surely, this would create a “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome and prompt many to request a change in location, right?

“I had one request based on allergy, but no one has requested specifically otherwise,” Assistant Director for Housing Services Marie Schauder says. “Once folks get into the Main buildings, they don’t want to leave. People have connected to the folks in their building.”

Schauder reflects the thoughts of many freshmen.

“When I first found out that I was on Main, I thought that I would try and move to South, but now I am so happy to be in Delurey, and I would never want things to be different,” freshman Gwen Burlingame says.

It is apparent that whether they are living on Main, South or West, the freshmen of Villanova have found a new home.