Despite some mixed reviews, the new humanities-themed dorm set to open next fall has received generally positive feedback from members of the Structural Liberal Education (SLE) community. The residence is meant to attract students across campus who are interested in the humanities.
The humanities dorm is designed to be a space for students interested in the humanities to live and learn together. In addition, the advisory committee, which decides the logistics behind the dorm, hopes the dorm can offer opportunities for the whole campus to attend, including guest lectures and writing workshops.
According to Jeff Schwegman, Humanities & Arts Initiatives Coordinator, the idea of a humanities dorm had its roots in the success of the SLE program.
“In any strong academic program,” Schwegman said. “There’s also a social and community aspect to them that really make them take off. I think this is why SLE, for example, had so much success, these students really get to know each other, and they bond over their interests.”
However, Schwegman emphasized that the humanities dorm is not intended to act as a residential education program. Instead, it is meant to serve as a catalyst, where students can find a diverse community of members with similar interests in the humanities.
In addition, Schwegman mentions that the humanities dorm is not only a place where past members of SLE can find a similar atmosphere, but also a place where students passionate about the humanities can gather and share their interests.
“The people coming out of SLE and ITALIC and SIMILE will be an obvious target for this dorm,” Schwegman said. “But with that said, it’s by no means the full aim of it… we also hope to appeal to students who, for example, are engineering majors and also have an interest in the humanities.”
Still, many of the current SLE members look forward to what new humanities dorm entails, and some are considering living there in the future years.
SinClair Cook ’18, who is considering majoring in Symbolic Systems, explained that the community was something he appreciated in the SLE program and that he would consider joining the humanities dorm for the same friendly and intellectual atmosphere.
“The reason I joined SLE was to gain a foundation in the humanities,” Cook said. “So even if I don’t major in the humanities in the future, living in the humanities dorm will allow me to continue having that foundation.”
In addition, SLE students are happy to see that the University is putting more effort into bringing more visibility to the humanities programs.
“I’m definitely thinking about joining the humanities dorm next year,” said Victor Liu ’18. “I think it’s a conscious effort on the part of Stanford in increasing awareness and arts.”
However, some members of the SLE community have also shown pushback against the new humanities dorm. Some students view the initiative as the University’s attempt to accommodate to humanities students.
“Once again the University is trying to make itself more appealing to people who are interested in the humanities, so it implies that there’s a hidden agenda to the new dorm,” said Nicole Wong ’18. “But I also do feel that the University is trying to create a better environment for humanities people, so it’s a double-edged sword for me.”
Other students explained that they are hesitant to immerse themselves in an environment with only humanities students and hope to search for a more diverse atmosphere after SLE.
Still, Schwegman emphasized that the humanities dorm is not meant to be a “humanities ghetto” but rather a diverse environment for humanities discussion.
Contact Stephanie Zhang at [email protected].