The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

First-years share mixed reactions following ‘The Flip’

Returning first-years “flip” across campus to reduce dorm density and provide every student the “Commons experience.”
A television is seen damaged after being transported across campus during the Flip. (Photo Courtesy Kevin West)

First-year students flipped their dorms last week in Vanderbilt’s first-ever mid-year residential swap.

“The Flip,” a term coined by the Office of Housing and Residential Education (OHARE), aims to reduce the density of campus residences while also allowing all members of the Class of 2024 the opportunity to live on Commons. 

In the Fall 2020 Return to Campus protocols, Vanderbilt implemented a single-occupant policy for all first-year dorms. First-year students on campus are currently dispersed between Commons, Branscomb and Towers, while still assigned to one of the ten residential colleges on Commons. On Friday, Jan. 22, first-year undergraduates were allowed to move into their new residential buildings.

In a video produced for the Flip, Dean of the Ingram Commons Melissa Gresalfi told students that the swap process had been designed with the idea of creating a cohesive community. 

“[The Flip] creates a whole first-year student community, even though we’re separated across two campuses,” Gresalfi said. 

North House residents did not participate in the housing switch as the capacity of Commons exceeds the capacity of Branscomb and Towers.

OHARE assigned students their new dorms in “clusters” to give students the opportunity to live with some of their floormates from Fall 2020. 

In a Feb. 3 email to first-years, OHARE thanked students for their cooperation in the process and acknowledged that the first-year experience has been unique and often challenging. 

“The Flip was an enormous undertaking and with so many moving parts, mistakes can happen,” the email read.

First-year students Kathryn Tereshko, Isabella Hirsch and Ruth Bellevue all reported positive experiences during the Flip. Tereshko told The Hustler that she was worried about misplaced belongings after leaving campus. 

“I ended up having to leave earlier than expected back in November and didn’t label all my boxes,” Tereshko wrote in a message to the Hustler, “I emailed OHARE, and they took care of it for me; and everything was in my room when I arrived last week.”

Despite moving from Commons to Towers, Bellevue told The Hustler that she was happy with her Flip experience and appreciated meeting new friends. 

“I am happy with the flip, because it gave me the opportunity to meet more upperclassmen and explore more parts of campus since everything is very close. I also enjoy the semi-fresh start I got with my floormates.” Bellevue said. 

Hirsch was excited to move from a single room in Towers to a double room in Stambaugh House but was disappointed to be separated from her first-semester floormates. 

“I had a great experience with the flip, because I have so much space,” Hirsch wrote in a message to The Hustler, “However, I was split up from my friends.”

First-year students were divided in their feelings towards the Flip in the fall semester. Most expressed concerns earlier in the semester over the transport of their personal belongings and the separation from first-semester floormates.

First-year Jessica Wu, who moved from Stambaugh to Towers, was surprised to find several of her personal items missing and broken. 

“One of my items was missing; and a plastic tub that was brought into my new room was cracked, and several items inside were damaged,” Wu said in a message to The Hustler. 

Wu informed The Hustler she had reached out to OHARE’s Office of Residential Experience to provide photos and information on Jan. 24 and received her missing items the following day.

First-year Branscomb resident Kevin West said that he faced several issues during his move-in experience. West was unable to access his Scales dorm room for several hours due to a malfunctioning lock. After trying both the original key and a spare, West and several upperclassmen were unable to open the door. 

“I got my key from the front desk of Branscomb and went up to my room, only to find out the key didn’t work,” West said.

West told The Hustler that his suitcases and personal belongings remained in the hallway, while he and several upperclassmen attempted to unlock his new door for close to 30 minutes. West’s door was opened only with the help of the master key and was still unable to lock from the outside. 

“About an hour or two later, they finally got a locksmith to come up, and he started working on my lock and made me a new key,” West said in a message to The Hustler.

When West was able to access his room, he noticed that his TV was missing from the items transported during The Flip. West reached out to OHARE inquiring about his TV and received a response the next morning. OHARE was able to locate the television from West’s description of the make and model. 

“I was super excited to get my TV back, because I thought it got stolen or something,” West said. “I unwrapped it like it was a Christmas gift, only to find a large crack in the top left corner of the screen.”

West said he was unable to use the television due to damage across the screen.

“I can’t even tell you how hurt I was when I saw the damage,” West said. “This whole move-in situation has left me with a lot of anguish.”

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About the Contributor
Zoe Abel
Zoe Abel, Former Opinion Editor
Zoe Abel (‘24) is from Washington, D.C., and is a student in the College of Arts and Science. She is majoring in medicine, health and society and child development with minors in biology and French on the pre-med track. In her free time, Zoe loves distance running, good music, coffee and telling terrible dad jokes. She is also an avid Oxford comma advocate. You can reach her at [email protected].  
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