by Katie Shaw
Boppell Hall, the only upperclassmen dorm on campus, will house only upperclassmen women starting fall 2014, in response to the increasingly wide ratio of women to men on campus. Baldwin-Jenkins will return to having an even gender ratio of women and men.
The anticipated class of 2018 consists of about 59 percent women, Associate Director of Housing Alan Jacob said.
“The decision was made after looking at where the current student body is concerning the male-female breakdown,” Jacob said.
The gap has been widening in the past couple of years, Jacob said. A couple of years ago, the ratio of women to men was closer to 55:45, compared with the current 60:40 ratio. This year, the layout of Baldwin-Jenkins was altered slightly to accommodate the trend.
At the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year, Baldwin-Jenkins changed from housing approximately half male and half female to housing only women on both floors of Baldwin, and separate gendered floors in Jenkins.
“The guys [in Jenkins] felt isolated,” Jacob said. “They felt a little overpowered, and it didn’t work as well as a community.”
The changes to Baldwin-Jenkins revert to having gendered floors on either side once Boppell is made an all-female dorm, since it will work better for each of the dorms’ communities and numbers, Jacob said.
“Once we reach above capacity for women, we have overflow [putting an extra person in a room],” Jacob said. “At a certain point, our need is so great and we have so many women in overflow and empty spaces on the guys’ floors, and I feel guilty about that. We were reaching the point where we needed a whole floor of women instead of just overflowing them.”
Boppell may return to being a mixed-gender dorm, but not for several years at least, since the change is being made in part for incoming freshman who are only starting to affect the demographic, Jacob said.
Boppell’s resident director Karrina Dehle said she thinks that having an all-women dorm might allow for greater interaction between residents on different floors, although there is also the possibility that it would have the opposite effect. It just depends on next year’s residents, she said.
Since more women will live in Boppell, freshmen women can be distributed more evenly throughout the other dorms, allowing for a more diverse community experience for freshmen, said junior Seth Flanders, a resident assistant in Boppell.
“While the dorm environment is a positive one, in order to allow for changes like Baldwin-Jenkins returning to 50/50 [men and women], and have female freshmen in the community, this is a change that Whitworth needs,” Flanders said.
Switching floors of some other dorms would only make the imbalance greater, so Boppell makes the most sense, Dehle said. There are no freshmen, and no Traditiation that Boppell is tied to, so it won’t be as difficult a transition as it would be for some other dorms.
“[The change] probably won’t have that much effect,” junior and Boppell resident Cindy Duncan said. “Even though guys live here, there aren’t many interactions anyway.”
Boppell is often a transition from on-campus to off-campus, and there tends to be plenty of transition in that building anyway, Jacob said. Ten people renewed their rooms last year, and only four of those were men
“It doesn’t really affect me,” sophomore and Boppell resident Joe Dill said. “I was planning on moving out anyway. What they’re doing makes sense.”
Flanders said he thinks the change will be for the best, and that it will be an opportunity for student life faculty to listen to the student body and learn what it wants.
“I think it will help Boppell form an identity,” Dehle said.