The start of the 2021 school year marked a remarkable change in many aspects of student life. More specifically, two dorms on the Berkshire school campus underwent a gender switch; Buck, previously a boys dorm, switched to a girls dorm and vice versa with Macmillan (Mac). While some students are thrilled about this change, others are still getting used to it. Mr. Peter Quilty, previous Dean of Student Life for the past 15 years, explained how the switching of the dorms was a step that Berkshire took to get close to housing equal numbers of male and female students.
Currently in his 22nd year at Berkshire, Mr. Quilty was here when Mac was built about 20 years ago, which had been a girls dorm ever since.
Mac and Buck are not the only dorms that have switched the gender they house in the history of Berkshire School. Surprisingly, Eipper used to be a girls dorm, but changed to a boys dorm when Mac and Crispin-Gordon-Rose (CGR) were built. Mr. Guilty explains that these changes all happened “as an attempt to increase the number of girls’ beds. ”
He also claims that there were two other reasons behind the school’s decision to switch Mac and Buck: it was part of the long-pursued strategic plan of the school and was an attempt to enroll more female students on campus.
Berkshire has been working on a strategic plan to increase the quality of experience on campus. The school receives feedback from its constituents, which include students, parents, employees, and alumni, on the state and ambiance of the school. The feedback helps the school set goals for itself to pursue; Berkshire set fulfilling the desire for more female housing closer to the academic buildings as one of its goals. This half of the campus is preferred by students who want to have close access to most of the main facilities of the school. Wanting to make an impact on how students view campus, Berkshire made the decision to switch the genders that Mac and Buck house and come a step closer to fulfilling the strategic plan.
Among all dormitories on campus, Mac and Buck were chosen as the subject of the school’s plan because they met multiple standards. For the past few years, the school has been on the lookout for two dorms that could switch to allow more female residence on campus. This change had to be held in cooperation with the admissions office to make sure that enough girls would enroll. Working closely together, the admissions office, Mr. Mulder, Ms. Maher, the Student Life Office, and Mr. Seye all came together to ensure this plan was feasible. In order to increase female boarding students on campus, Berkshire also reopened Senior House which was previously closed for a while because of cost-efficiency problems that emerged when it took a group of five faculty to look over six residents. As Senior House closed, Spurr was renovated to include an additional 12 girls. Additionally, Mr. Quilty quantified that, “in the past 16 years, we have added approximately 36 girl’s beds on campus.” Berkshire is actively working to grow our community.
A question posed on this change, however, was the students opinion of this switch. Both dorms have its pros and cons: Buck is far more convenient in terms of location, however some students argue that the aesthetics are not as good as that of Mac.
Why would the number of girls and boys beds on campus matter so much? Former dean of student life highlighted gender equality as the major reason behind the school’s endeavor to house equal halves of boys and girls students. Based on statistics and analysis of the school that regularly took place, it “worked better” when the male to female student ratio was almost 1:1. The school believes that a balance in gender will bring better experiences to the students of life on campus.