Turner House, Homer Harris revoked from rising juniors

By HATTIE LEFAVOUR

After outcry from seniors at the news that two small senior houses were allotted to rising juniors in the superblock process, the assignments may now have been revoked, according to students involved.

This year’s superblock process was initially expanded to include Turner House and Homer Harris after the Office of Residential Life received an influx of applicants for superblocks. The reassignment, however, angered many seniors who had been assured that Turner and Homer Harris would be available in the general housing draw. 

Rising junior Brooke Laird ’22, the coordinator for the applicants allotted Turner House, told The Campus that her group’s housing assignment was revoked on April 16 through a Zoom call with Assistant Director of Residential Life Kady Shea.

“She has notified us that due to the original statement in the housing information, Turner will go back into the regular room draw process for seniors,” Laird said in a statement to The Campus. “This was obviously incredibly hard to hear, because we were enthusiastic about bringing our superblock plans into this space.”

Sophie Hochman ’22, a rising junior in the group previously assigned to Homer Harris, received similar news in a Zoom call with Shea and the members of her applicant group.

“Basically, as of now, we are not attached to that location,” Hochman told The Campus. “[Shea] very much framed it as ‘putting Homer Harris on pause’ and talked about the many new spaces they are exploring for housing on campus and how they need to do a full survey of those before we can talk further.”

The news follows a barrage of objections about the assignments from the rising senior class, many of whom expressed through memes and vitriolic emails to the housing administrators that Middlebury’s senior housing options are already limited. The other superblock assignments at Jewett House, 97 Adirondack View and 48 South Street (KDR), which are traditionally included in the process and were not subject to student protest, remain unaffected by the changes.

Shea could not be reached for comment. Associate Dean of Student Life AJ Place did not corroborate the students’ claims and instead told The Campus in an email that no decision had been made regarding the two houses. 

“We are exploring options based on the feedback from seniors,” Place said. “We will share out all the information we have about available properties when we release the updated room draw calendar.”  

Although no official announcement has been made regarding the tentative reallocation of Turner and Homer Harris, an email sent to all rising seniors on April 9 and co-signed by Shea, Place and Senior Associate Dean of Students Derek Doucet addressed student outrage over the initial superblock process. The email also addressed the erroneous statement left on the 2020-2021 informational website claiming that Turner and Homer Harris would not be available as superblocks, which served as a catalyst for student anger after it was retroactively removed.

“We recognize that some of you would have preferred to receive this information ahead of time, and that we inadvertently left text on the room draw page indicating that these spaces would not be offered as superblocks,” the email read. “That was an oversight we acknowledge, and for which we apologize.”

As uncertainties surrounding student enrollment this fall have forced Middlebury to rethink its housing conventions, the email also claimed that previously unavailable locations may be added to the senior housing draw for the 2020-2021 year. A following email to all students on April 13, also co-signed by Shea, Place and Doucet, doubled down on this proposal, though a timeline for the remainder of the housing process has not yet been determined.

“We will expand housing options for students, which may include both small and large houses not offered before,” the email read. “These spaces will be available and selected in the room draw process based on seniority.”

As housing reconfigurations take place, the groups originally assigned to Turner House and Homer Harris hope to find other locations to pursue the superblock themes proposed in their applications. Turner was originally planned to center around relationships, care and consent, while Homer Harris was to be focused on sustainable design. 

“We have gotten word that we might be reassigned but have very little information on where or when,” said Hochman.

Laird’s group is in a similar position. “We are hopeful that we can work with Kady to find a place for our superblock within the new potential housing options that are being investigated,” she said.