This year, female students moved into Koon Residence, bringing with them faux butterflies, garlands, and newfound community. Koon Residence, a tiny dorm located on the south side of campus, may not be at the forefront of someone’s mind at the mention of on-campus dormitories. Founded by Ezra L. Koon in 1959, the dorm has housed both men and women since its founding.
Sophomore and Koon resident assistant Anna Kate Hicks said because of its consistent pendulum swing from a male dorm to a female dorm, Koon does not have much of a reputation or stereotype, unlike other dorms on campus.
“It was often forgotten as a guys’ dorm,” Hicks said, “I unfortunately fell into that group of people who forgot it existed my freshman year, which is ironic because now I live here.”
Hicks said most girls did not know one another at the beginning of the year, but that has changed.
“I think the deans did a really good job putting sweet, genuine girls in the dorm,” Hicks said. “Many girls were unexpectedly placed in Koon but have appreciated some qualities it offers.”
Sophomore Evalyn Homoelle was one of those girls who was surprised to learn she would be spending the year in Koon.
“While being assigned to live in Koon was unexpected, I’ve come to appreciate several aspects of the dorm,” she said, “Our RAs are incredible, and the proximity of the dorm to campus has been so convenient.”
Hicks said she shared her and her fellow resident assistant, Ciara Carr’s, goals for Koon.
“We wanted it to be a place of safety that you feel comfortable coming back to,” Hicks said, “but also a place of growth where you grow, are stretched, and build character.”
The resident assistants purposefully chose the theme of the dorm as a “cocoon” based on this atmosphere. The dorm is decked with lights, garlands, and butterflies.
“The idea is of safety, the safety of a cocoon,” Hicks explained, “but it’s also a place where you can grow into a butterfly.”
The lobby of Koon is almost always full of treats and fun conversation.
“We have great conversations in the lobby under the fairy lights,” Hicks said. “We even had a ramen night because lots of girls make ramen at random hours of the night. We almost always have homemade food out in the lobby, whether brownies or pies from residents or meals from our house mom, Pam.”
Despite its small size, Koon is involved in campus life as a part of a group called Southside Sweethearts, which competed in Homecoming this fall.
“I was concerned about being one of the few, female girls on the opposite side of campus,” Hicks explained. “But we were able to build Southside Sweethearts, and many Koon girls clicked with that. Now, we’ve built a sisterhood with Townhouse and Paul House, as three small dorms on the southside of campus.”
Junior Jack Golden, an RA in Niedfeldt, lived in Koon from 2020 to 2021, and said dorm culture was lacking.
“As a guys’ dorm, it was full of transfer students who didn’t have much in common, which made dorm cohesion very difficult.” Golden said. “When you have a dorm that small, it’s so important that people want to live there and share interests so that the dorm actually has a culture and isn’t just a location.”
Golden said he’s happy to see the success the girls have had in building a stronger community within the dorm.
“Whether kept a women’s residence or not,” Homoelle said, “I think that the culture of Koon would be greatly increased if it was consistently kept a single-gender dorm and not switched from year to year.”
Homoelle said she thinks Koon is better as a men’s dorm due to its close proximity to Whitley and Niedfeldt. Hicks, on the other hand, said the small size works well for a women’s dorm.
“I hope it will remain a girls’ dorm,” Hicks said. “I really think it’s better suited for girls than it is for guys. There’s something about the small community that girls really thrive in. I think it’s a really cozy and beautiful place.”