This Letter to the Editor is in reply to the Johnson Hall article in the November 11 issue.
Please title this letter: An Additional Response to Revitalized Residence Hall
This publication’s November 11 issue contained an article glowing with praise about the Johnson Hall segregation of freshmen. The author mentioned a “possible detriment,” which should be corrected to “serious detriment.” I will explain the issue and provide two solutions.
The lack of interaction between Freshman and older students is tremendous. This extends beyond housing, where it has been intentionally crafted; it carries over to the rest of campus life. Many freshmen have minimal interaction with upperclassmen throughout the week.
Hopkins’s argument that “research overwhelmingly points to the need” to segregate Freshmen, and it has become “standard practice” reminds me of my former youth pastor who always made a similar point. Forget being original, or making decisions based on the needs of the community; if there is a “proven ministry strategy,” employ it.
The Freshman Experience planners have ignored one major difference between Trinity and the other schools where freshman segregation has worked: Trinity cares about the development of the whole person. A Christian institution sees no need to divide heart, mind, body and self. Integrative, intersectional experience is necessary for spiritual development. Do we value discipleship? Do we value inter-class mentorship and role modeling? I say that we must, and the Freshmen segregation experiment minimizes it.
This has become a spiritual problem in my own life since arriving. I have found it difficult to bond with other freshmen, and so I have sought upperclassmen as friends. But even these are notoriously elusive, an uphill battle from the start. I probably have gone farther out of my way than most freshman have gone or will go, and even still I have returned with mostly empty hands.
Seeing as there is no opt-out mechanism, I will be remaining in Johnson this spring. Since I hope that the administration reconsider the need for inter-class interaction, they has two solutions: returns to the model used before this year (which is unlikely given bureaucratic inertia) or build-in a new mechanism to intentionally develop these friendships. If neither, one wonders what unanticipated consequences to the spiritual climate will follow.
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