5_closest_halls

Only a few halls can claim to be as close as these; these freshmen are set to be friends for life.

Credit: Angel Fan

Don't tell the freshmen in the New College House, Kings Court English College House or Stouffer College House, but every year the freshman halls of the Quad are the loudest in bragging about their closeness. Here are this year's five (self-proclaimed) contenders for the closest hall. 

1. Ware College House: Fourth floor of Speakman and Butcher halls. 

Walking into the fourth floor lounge for Speakman and Butcher Halls at 2 a.m., you are likely to find a heated chess game going on in the corner of the room, a couple of people watching television and a few others talking over a bowl of chicken tenders from Wawa.

Home to 24 students in the Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship residential program at Ware College House, this lounge is “literally occupied at all hours of the day,” said College and Wharton freshman Varun Vallabhaneni.

They come from places as different as Ghana and Malaysia and the freshmen in this hall all identify as extroverted, making it easy for Graduate Associate and medical student Akudo Ejelonu to cultivate a sense of community. At the beginning of every month, the hall buys a cake to celebrate the birthdays of residents born in that month. Last week, the residents attended Hillel Steak and Tofu Steak together; next week, they have plans to go kayaking.

“No matter what time it is or what’s going on, you always have people to go to,” said Wharton freshman Oluwafeyikemi Makinde. Last week, a hallmate, College freshman Alex Crane painted Makinde’s nails for her even though he had not done someone's nails before.

“That just shows you,” said Makinde, “You have people here who really have your back.

2. Riepe College House: Second floor of Cleeman, Magee and Ashhurst halls

Tucked away in the second floor of the "Baby Quad" are 25 freshmen who started bonding even before New Student Orientation began.

As members of the Mentors Program in Riepe, these students arrived a day earlier before NSO to get acquainted and learn more about their program. Under the direction of Graduate School of Education professor and Riepe faculty fellow Betsy Rymes, students in this program spend two hours every week mentoring children in three of West Philadelphia’s public schools.

College freshman Omkar Katta said the mentor’s program brought together a group of very like-minded individuals.

“Something that sticks out is that we all share a desire to help people,” Katta said. Residential Advisor and Nursing senior Joshua Jayasinghe agreed. He said the freshmen have bonded quickly over similar interests and continue to spend time with each other even after classes began.

“I’m really happy because Riepe is their home,” Jayasinghe said. “If you don’t know anyone in your home, it makes it a lot harder to go about your freshman year.”

3. Fisher Hassenfeld College House: First and second floor of Class of ’28 hall

If College freshman Rebecca Gearhart is to be believed, the first and second floors of the Class of ’28 building are “110 percent one of the most bonded, if not the most bonded” freshman halls in the Quad.

“We go everywhere together — we eat together, we study together, we party together,” Gearhart said. Her GA, Gradute School of Education student Sy Stokes agreed.

“Everytime other RAs and GAs go on their rounds, they always tell me that they see my students congregating in the same room,” Stokes said. “[The students] aren’t doing anything wrong, they just want to be around each other.”

Stokes said this group of 19 freshmen are particularly conscientious about taking care of each other. After they return home from parties, College freshman Megan McKelvey makes everyone rice and tea. In the mornings, College freshman Matthew Dougherty prepares coffee for everyone. Doors are always kept open and everyone takes turns to clean the corridor.

While the freshmen credit their friendship to their GA, Stokes said he is not really sure how the group became so bonded.

“At the beginning, I just wanted a base line level of mutual respect," he said. "These kids went over and beyond. They all just became straight up best friends.”

4. Fisher Hassenfeld: Second floor of Franklin and Foerderer

Affectionately nicknamed "F Squared" by their GA Christina Belknap, a graduate student in the School of Social Policy & Practice, the second floor of Franklin and Foerderer building is home to 17 students who eat almost every meal together.

“The first thing that Christina said to us was that community is very important to her,” Wharton freshman Anvit Reddy said. “That’s something she’s instilled in all of us.”

Belknap recently organized an excursion downtown, where all 17 students turned up. 

"Every time I put something on the table, I can be pretty sure that every single one of them is going to come," she said.

The group has been so inclusive that they’ve begun to adopt “stragglers,” said Wharton freshman Isabella Yu. Recently, when the students of F Squared went to watch an outdoor movie, Yu invited a few of her friends whose halls were not as close as her hall is.

While Belknap was organizing most of the activities during the initial period, she is proud to see the students taking over this role. Just yesterday at midnight, a group of students flooded into the room of College freshman Riley Morrison to wish him happy birthday.

5. Fisher Hassenfeld: Fourth floor of Hopkinson, Lippincott, Fitler, Baird, Craig and Class of ’87 halls

Up in the top floor of Fisher is a group of 16 students who pride themselves on being diverse yet connected. There are athletes living next to dancers, and students from Greece sharing a hallway with students from America and Lebanon.

“What’s unique about our hall is that we all have varying interests,” said College freshman Christopher Mountanos. “If we were not put in the same hall, we might not have crossed paths. Now that we have, however, we get along so well.”

In their free time, the group likes to hang out at College freshman Arman Murphy’s room, where they play video games like Mario Kart. Otherwise, they sit out in the hall for “heart-to-heart” talks or head into someone’s room for a spontaneous dance party. Last weekend, they went to cheer on one of their hallmates in the women’s soccer game against Towson University.

RA and College junior Helen Fetaw said the group behaves like brothers and sisters.

“In your freshman year, there are so many things that can upset you," Fetaw said. "When you have one of those really long days, what you need is a support system."

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