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West Dorm’s Changing Culture

After a series of complications that took place during Wet Season, the Harvey Mudd administration has stepped in and called for internal restructuring of West culture to ensure the safety and well-being of the Mudd residential community.

In response to this, members of West formed a committee to create plans for changes within the dorm. The committee was led by dorm presidents Paul Dapolito and Austin Fikes, and composed of three subgroups, each focusing on a specific aspect of the dorm’s culture: internal behavior, activities, and outreach. Over the course of two weeks, the subcommittees met to generate ideas for improvement in various aspects of West culture.

The result includes a comprehensive agenda that focuses on establishing new behavioral standards, fun activities, and outreach opportunities for West residents. To generate discussions about current issues within the dorm, dry “Dorm Forums” will be scheduled regularly, and contacts will be appointed to deal with complaints or concerns. In addition, the presidents are pushing for 75% of residents to be Teal Dot trained, a goal aimed to increase individual understanding of appropriate conduct.

On the recreational side, new activities were brainstormed and implemented as alternatives to the traditional West fires and other destructive activities. For example, the new cornhole set has become a popular pastime for Westies and other Mudders, and there are even rumors of a half-pipe installment and other additions to the dorm.

Finally, perhaps the most progressive reform includes outreach to the Mudd community, including points of contact at each dorm and service opportunities in the area to increase community engagement. An important aspect of outreach also involves the appointment of a dorm member to be responsible for West alumni on campus, especially during the weekends. This would greatly facilitate the transition between the old and new culture of the dorm.

After its completion, the plan was presented to the deans for evaluation.

Though the committee was formed as a response to administration concerns, the new West culture can prove beneficial to both current Westies and prospective students of Mudd. While the infamous fires and sometimes destructive activities provided enjoyment for Westies, they also led to both safety hazards and a significant intimidation factor for those outside of the dorm. With these improvements, residents will no longer have to worry about possible injuries from broken glass or other sharp materials, and less intimidation can help promote inclusiveness within and beyond the dorm.

Nonetheless, in the midst of a drastic restructuring, the core of West culture remains intact. Dapolito hopes that West will continue to be a welcoming community for residents, and remains optimistic for the future of the dorm:

The close-knit West community has always had an atmosphere of love, care, respect, and acceptance; these are the aspects of the dorm’s culture that we need to focus on and thrive off of in the future. I know that we are taking the proper steps to eliminate aspects of the culture here which are destructive and intimidating, and I have full faith in our ongoing movement to internally restructure and realign our community with the best interests of the College as a whole.

The fires of West may have been doused, but the fiery spirit of the dorm lives on. West presidents hope that the plan for the dorm will not only create a better living environment, but also set an example for possible improvement within other dorms.

By Jane Wu ’18

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