Freshmen often expect to make close friends in their dorms, where they are surrounded by other new students. But each year, whether by choice or luck, some freshmen find themselves living among mostly upperclassmen.
The Penn college houses that are four-year communities include: Harrison, Gregory, Stouffer, W.E.B. Du Bois and New College House. The five first-year houses are Riepe, Ware, Fisher Hassenfeld, Hill and Kings Court English, while Rodin and Harnwell are reserved for upperclassmen.
College and Wharton junior Sue Roy, who lived in Gregory during her freshman year, said she only saw upperclassmen during dorm-wide social events. She added upperclassmen “were there as advisors if you needed them to be, but they were mostly doing their own thing.”
Wharton freshman and NCH resident Evan Viroslav agreed, adding that upperclassmen “haven’t grown to be a big part of [his] life." He said that he thinks most of the upperclassmen in NCH stay in their suites because they arranged to live with friends.
Viroslav originally ranked the Quad as his first choice in his housing application, but said he has been impressed with the amenities in his NCH dorm, where there are 40-inch flat screen TVs in each suite.
“The conditions are relatively hygienic and spot-free compared to rats scurrying around in the old Quad,” he explained.
Nonetheless, he sees some difficulties in being so far away from places like the Quad, which is often the center of freshmen activity.
“Word doesn’t get around here as easy as in Hill or the Quad,” Viroslav said. “I’ll often have to hear about events from my friends … and unfortunately I end up missing out on some things.”
Milo Frayre, a College junior, lived in Gregory his freshman year. He chose this house to be a part of the Film Culture Residential Program, where students can earn half a course unit for attending faculty discussions on cinematic subjects and watching films in city center. Despite the building's lack of air conditioning, Frayre said he is glad for the "really close" friendships he formed with his suitemates.
College freshman Abraham Mascio agreed, saying that his house, Du Bois, was “really cozy” and actively tries to create a “strong community” of students.
Mascio also said Du Bois’s facilities are not as modern as those in the other houses, especially given that his dorm does not have air conditioning, but added that staff tries to help students beat the heat with free fans.
The fourth floor of Du Bois is made up predominantly of freshmen, which Mascio said means that “unless you actively try to mingle with upperclassmen you won’t see them as much.”
Despite enjoying her freshman year in Gregory, Roy still wonders what it would have been like to live in the Quad.
“Having the Quad experience is a freshman experience,” she said. “Living in Gregory was its own experience and I had similar experiences like being close with my hall, meeting new people and all that, so I didn’t miss out in that way but sometimes you kinda wonder, ‘what if?’”