The new women’s dorm still needs a name, but the women living in it are excited to share their space.
Construction on the dormitory, the first new dorm on campus since 2005, is complete, and while finishing touches are still needed, 55 residents now call it home.
“The temporary name is ‘New Dorm’ while we wait for a friend of the college to give a donation towards this specifically,” New Dorm House Director Rosemary Pynes explained, adding that the dorm would then be named for the donor.
Despite the lack of a name, however, the new dormitory is full of warmth and appeal. Complete with Penny’s, a coffee shop opening next week, and surrounded by a large outdoor space with a fire pit, Pynes says they want the areas to be open “for all the women’s dorm residents over here to use.”
Pynes described her desire to cultivate relationships between the new dorm and the neighboring women’s residence halls, Benzing and Mauck, hoping to build “an overall Hillsdale community, rather than just the New Dorm’s community.”
“We’re focused on our residents, but also working outward,” Pynes said. “While we build up the dorm, we really want to encourage the girls to build up each other as well.”
As a part of this initiative, the dorm’s coffee shop, which is separate from Bon Appétit, will also be run and staffed by students. Manager Emily Barnum, ’18, called this “a unique enterprise.”
Associate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell explained that this concept of a dorm coffee shop has “been suggested on and off for years,” but the new dorm was the “perfect opportunity” to implement it.
Named for President Larry Arnn’s wife, Penny, it is set to be a study spot with high-quality coffee, emulating Penny Arnn’s hospitality.
“She is the picture of warmth and hospitality and grace and virtue,” Barnum said.
Penny’s, which will be supplied by Uncommon Coffee out of Saugatuck, Mich., is a “slower” alternative to A.J.’s Cafe, Barnum says.
“We want to offer food items that are not available at A.J.’s and Jitters,” she said. “We also want to serve a tiny bite-sized snack or cookie with every drink, kind of a European experience. It’s not just about meeting your caffeine needs. It’s less utilitarian, and more about the experience.”
Barnum also says an espresso bar will include stools so students can talk to their baristas, and she confirmed that Liberty Bucks will be accepted at the new dorm’s coffee shop.
Dell explained that the dorm was built to allow more sophomores to continue living in a dorm community. She said that the community bathrooms were a central part of this initiative.
“Committees found that the community is strongest in the dorms that have community bathrooms… They tended to have the tightest groups with great support. We know, though, that not everyone wants a community bathroom, so then we looked at our upperclassmen offerings. We realized that we actually did not offer many upperclassman female options with community bathrooms,” Dell said.
She added that the biggest goal of the dorm is to foster a “homelike environment.”
“We want this to be a space where community, fellowship, and friendship grow, an opportunity not only for the upperclassmen living there…but also that this be a residence hall that freshmen are welcomed into, so that we can foster as much as we are able that idea of mentorship, and upperclassmen supporting underclassmen,” Dell said.
“We’re really hoping that it will help foster community on campus, and that everyone will feel welcome there,” she said.