Morgan Hall, Temple’s newest residence hall, is one of the most modern dormitories in Philadelphia. Upon its ribbon-cutting in 2013, there were hopes that Morgan Hall would bring a sense of community to its residents. But how much is the building really bringing students together?
Freshman student Elizabeth Grant lives on the seventh floor of the low-rise Morgan Hall South. As much as she enjoys living in Morgan South, she said she doesn’t think the residence hall has created a sense of community.
“From what I notice, everyone seems to generally keep to themselves,” Grant said. “The hallways and common areas are typically empty, with a few exceptions depending on the day. I think this might be because every dorm room has its own living room, so there’s no point to go somewhere else to lounge or watch TV.”
The traditional four-person apartment-style suite consists of two shared bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a kitchen with a sink, conventional oven, pantry space, full-size fridge, kitchen table and a communal living room with a couch and a 42-inch flat screen TV.
Since students have pretty much everything they might need within their apartments, there’s not much motivation to leave their rooms. Grant said the year started out strong, as residents kept their doors open and made efforts to socialize. However, during the course of the year students have remained in their caves with little urgency to come out, he said.
Much like Grant, I don’t know the majority of my neighbors on the 12th floor of Morgan Hall North, either. There are times I get into the elevator, see that the button for my floor is already pressed, look around at the blank unfamiliar faces and don’t have any clue which of them lives only several feet from me.
Brittany Cozzens, a sophomore advertising major and resident assistant in Morgan Hall North, said she tries her best to get her residents to meet one another and become friends.
If Cozzens were asked to give a recommendation of a residence hall ideal for freshmen: “I lived in J&H. So, I would probably say J&H [for a freshman] just because it is the ultimate communal living spot. You meet a ton of different people from different places.”
The floors of Johnson and Hardwick halls are segregated by gender, and residents utilize communal bathrooms on each floor.
“I think it just opens you up to a lot of people and it also teaches you a lot, too,” Cozzens said. “Yes, you’re sharing a bathroom with so many people, but you also have to learn how to be considerate.”
Coming from a smaller-sized suite in the southeast wing of 1300 Residence Hall – with 60 guys and eight girls, plus an RA – from last year to a larger, apartment-style suite and a smaller hallway, I would think that this smaller group of residents would make it easier to bond as a unit. Compared to the constant activity of residents from last year, the best way to describe my hallway this year would be “eerily quiet.”
This is not to say the RAs aren’t trying to develop that sense of communal bond. However, with the odds stacked against them, it can be challenging.
Had I lived in Morgan Hall last year – if it were open then, of course – I would not have felt as inclined to go out into the lounges or the hallway to socialize and meet the people I still talk to today.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t [recommend Morgan Hall South to freshmen],” Grant said. “Don’t get me wrong. Morgan Hall is absolutely beautiful and a personal living room and kitchen are awesome to have. But for a college dorm, it’s dorm size and price because of it is a little unnecessary. I also feel that because of how luxurious the dorm room is, I don’t really have the need to go beyond it to make new friends, and I think that should be a priority as a college freshman.”
Let’s face it: As a species, we’re lazy. If we have everything we need within reach, why should we bother to leave our rooms?
Chelsea Ann Rovan can be reached at email@example.com.