A new experiment in community building will debut in Fern Smith Hall beginning the 2018-2019 Northwestern school year. Third North will be closing in an effort to condense the dorm and foster relationships between residents.
The decision, primarily made by Dean of Residence Life Marlon Haverdink and Resident Director of Fern Lindsay Hubbell, came after noticing an empty feeling around the hall.
There is one central reason for that empty feeling: a decline in female students at NW. In 2014, females composed 56 percent of the incoming class, and in 2017, that percentage evened out with the males at 50 percent. Without much increase in overall enrollment, it means fewer females at NW.
Condensing the hall was also considered last year, but resident assistants were already hired at that point. The Residence Life office is currently working on hiring RAs for next year, so right now is the prime time to announce the closure.
Hubbell expressed her hope that the larger population on remaining wings will lead to more energy, community and diversity in interaction.
Closing the wing does not come without a sense of sadness and nostalgia, even if it’s only temporary.
“Third North has always been a strong community, and I am saddened to see it go,” Hubbell said. “It means one less RA for me to hire, one less leadership opportunity for a woman on campus, one less wing that I will walk on to say hi and hear about life.”
Former residents of the wing are reminiscing on the memories they’ve made there. Senior Laura Korver, who was the RA of Third North during the 2016-2017 school year said she had a good experience there.
“I absolutely loved being an RA on Third North,” Korver said. “Being an RA to the women on that wing was one of the best college experiences I have had.”
Sophomore Sophia Holt lived near Korver last year and has good experiences to talk about as well.
“My favorite memory from Third North is never getting homework done because there were too many wonderful Third North friends to hang out with,” Holt said. “Third North and the lifelong friends I made there will always be in my heart.”
Sophomores MaKayla Tjernagel and Nicole Koertner also lived on Third North last year and have fond memories of it.
“Third North made my freshman year experience a lot better,” Tjernagel said.
Koertner agreed with Tjernagel.
“I made so many amazing friends on Third North last year that mean so much to me,” Koertner said.
Sophomore Karly Summy is the RA of the wing this year and she loved it.
“Third North had a great dynamic and was just a great place that was so welcoming and full of life,” Summy said. “Hopefully Third North will open again in the fall of 2019. It feels weird to be the last RA of Third North for now.”
So, why Third North? The south wings host the kitchens and the east wings tend to be the biggest. Location wise, it just makes sense to choose a wing on the top floor.
Many of the current Third North residents have already made plans to move to new wings or dorms, so it should be a smooth transition.
The closure of the wing is hoped to be temporary. Third North could potentially reopen in August 2019 or even stay open this fall if female enrollment is strong. However, seven wings will still be open and full of residents ready to build community the old-fashioned NW way.