Next winter break, Fayerweather Hall will be open as international student housing. The decision, made by members of the senior staff of the College, was reached after months of deliberation about how best to meet the needs of international students, many of whom cannot go home for the two-week winter break period.
Under pressure from the international student body, the College responded and determined which dorm would be most appropriate for break housing. Fayerweather Hall was chosen in part because of its size and also due to its individualized heating controls, which would be more energy efficient than heating the entire building, according to Aaron Gordon, assistant director of campus life.
“This decision came out of a series of discussions with many people about the needs of students and the costs of making a very basic housing option available,” Dean Bolton said. “We then talked about what dorm would be most appropriate from the point of view of kitchen facilities, safety and centrality on campus.”
The decision was “a conscious effort on the part of the College to recognize some form of accommodation without violating the College’s goals of sustainability, energy savings and giving the staff much needed down time, particularly Facilities and [Campus Safety and] Security,” Gordon said.
Last winter break, the College arranged housing at the Holiday Inn in North Adams and the Williamstown Motel. While some students inquired, none ultimately took advantage of the College’s reduced hotel rates, according to Gina Coleman, associate dean for international students.
“The perceived issue of international students being left out in the cold with no place to go is not even true,” Coleman said. Going forward, however, she expects that the accessibility of College housing over the break will increase the number of interested students.
“Now that the College is opening this up, we’ll have a lot of students who’d opt to live here,” Coleman said. “It will certainly make winter break housing plans for international students easier.”
The details and logistics surrounding the new option for winter break have yet to be finalized.
“The real challenge now becomes how do we determine [which] international students are going to want to take advantage of this option and then how do we get them into these rooms,” Gordon said.
“How much maintenance is needed will depend a lot on how many students stay,” Bolton said. “We’ll have custodial support at a level appropriate to keep the building safe and sanitary.”
Currently, this housing option is only available to international students. “I hope in the future this option is open to other students who may have issues getting home over the break,” Coleman said.