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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
2nd Swallow

Swallow Robin to become all-female hall

Current male residents seek new residence hall

On April 30 at 4:35 p.m., returning male residents of Swallow Robin Hall’s second floor were informed by the Taylor University housing office via an email that the co-ed residence hall will be changed to be an all-female residence hall for the 2024-25 academic year. 

The decision came after Student Development discovered there was limited space in the other female residence halls and floors on campus, Skip Trudeau, vice president for Student Development and Intercollegiate Athletics and program chair of master of arts in higher education, said in a forum hosted on May 1. 

Residents who were returning to Swallow Robin for the 2024-25 academic school year were informed the same day the decision was made, approximately six weeks after the campus-wide room squat had already taken place. 

A statement issued by Student Development on May 2 said that 10 male students and seven female students had chosen to squat in their rooms in Swallow Robin. 

Junior Harrison Schmitt, despite having accepted the role of personnel assistant (PA) of Second Swallow for the 2024-25 academic year, said he did not receive the housing email from Taylor that was sent to his floormates and instead received the information from other Swallow Robin residents.

Schmitt and the designated 2024-25 Discipleship Assistant (DA) sophomore Kaleb Int Veld will still be awarded the scholarship they would have received for their respective positions, Trudeau said in the forum.

The University is exploring other leadership options for Schmitt and Veld to fulfill. Delight Darenya, Swallow Robin Hall director, is stepping down from her position at the end of the spring and will continue her time on campus in a different role. However, the recent Swallow changes had nothing to do with her decision as her decision had been in the process since January, she said.

Student Development hosted three separate forums on May 1 for students to ask questions and explore housing options. One was for the concerned members of the student body, hosted by Trudeau; one was for the male members of Second Swallow to coordinate new housing arrangements, hosted by Julia Hurlow; and one was for the women of Swallow Robin, to offer them the opportunity to change residence halls for the next year.

Students from both Swallow Robin Hall and other residence halls attended the meeting hosted by Trudeau, where he explained that the increase in freshmen for the next academic year was unprecedented and that the University is still evaluating how to manage that growth over time.

Schmitt said the male students in the Second Swallow forum were given housing forms with a list of rooms that were set aside for freshmen. They were then given until May 2 at noon to decide where they would live next semester.

“We’re being taken advantage of,” he said. “And again, I understand that it wasn't a personal attack from the administration. But to some extent, that's the way it feels, especially with the circumstances surrounding them.”

Swallow Robin Hall currently consists of two female floors and one male floor which has held 61 residents during the 2023-24 academic year.

Since its construction in 1916, Swallow Robin Hall has “alternately been an all-male residence hall and a co-ed residence hall,” a University-issued statement to the student body said.

As the May 1 national deposit date had grown closer, the University began to develop a “comprehensive view of campus housing needs for next year,” the emailed statement said. 

“In general, Taylor strives to have 33% of residential beds available for new freshmen to preserve our residential, incarnational model of freshmen through seniors living together,” the statement said.  “In summary, Swallow Robin was chosen because it impacted a smaller number of students and provided the university with additional flexibility to manage overall housing needs,” the statement said.

The number of students staying in the hall next year led the University to make the decision.

“We informed the students impacted as soon as the decision was reached,” Trudeau said in an email to The Echo. “We then met with these students to give them their choice of housing choices before the process of making assignments for incoming freshmen. We are thankful to the Swallow Robin students for being willing to make a move to another residence hall.”

During the forum, many students expressed their understanding of the decision and optimism regarding Taylor’s “growth mindset,” but felt unheard and tossed aside due to the speed of the transition and the lack of consultation with the student body.

“Growing pains come with any organization that changes and that's something we have to work with,” Schmitt said. “If they (Taylor administration) had informed us of the decision to make Second Swallow a women's floor and the whole dorm a women’s dorm at the beginning of this semester, it would have been ‘Oh, that sucks, but OK.’ But they waited after ResLife assignments, after squatting, after draw. They waited till the busiest time of the semester and dropped it on us now…it feels like we were forgotten.”

The Swallow Robin Hall director, the current and future PA of Second Swallow and the Swallow Robin Hall students were never consulted or informed before this decision was made.

“I definitely was not a part of the conversation and I think it’s unfortunate timing, especially due to the amount of incoming students and how it’s hard to know when people are actually coming,” junior Enoch Eicher, student body vice president, said.

Schmitt and First Swallow PA junior Raenah Hyde each expressed a fear that the culture of Swallow Robin will die out with the departure of the male residents. 

Due to their size, Swallow Robin is a residence hall with no brother or sister floor. Schmitt and Hyde described Swallow Robin as a haven for introverts, providing a calm, yet tight-knit family that supplied their co-ed experience with a level of uniqueness that no other residence hall held.

The male students of Swallow Robin have decided to move to Gerig Hall and Breuninger Hall for the 2024-25 academic year.

To meet the current housing demands in light of the growing student population, the University said that the new Residential Villages, along with the recently acquired Delta Apartments, will be available to upperclassmen, adding 200 additional beds.

Student Development’s statement said that in 2018 the University consisted of 1,883 undergraduates attending Taylor. The University has since returned to that number post-COVID-19 and expects to welcome approximately 2,040 on-campus undergraduates in the fall, although that number is subject to change. 

“If I could choose one thing to communicate to the administration and the people in charge of these decisions, it would be that quick, early and thorough communication with the people that are affected by these changes, goes a tremendous way toward building a better community and getting a better response to the changes,” Schmitt said in a statement to The Echo. “Springing these decisions on unsuspecting and busy students while then subsequently steamrolling their complaints with, ‘We have already decided’ is the fastest way to garner ill will that I have yet witnessed on this earth.”