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Editorial: Cautiously optimistic about dorm renovations

We commend Brown’s decision to allocate $5 million to renovating Perkins and Barbour Halls. While Perkins has been more maligned among students due to its physical distance from the rest of campus, both dorms stand in dire need of repair and renovations. The deteriorating state of the buildings has affected the quality of life of their inhabitants for several years, and the renovations will hopefully make a substantive difference to the livability of each dorm. Furthermore, while for many students the objection to the buildings is primarily aesthetic, both require many changes to ensure they are fully accessible to students with disabilities.

Yet as the repairs announced by Senior Associate Dean of Residential Life Richard Bova will only “renew” the buildings rather than fully renovate them, we question whether the proposed plans will sufficiently change the dorms’ living conditions. We fear the renovations might merely be minor beautification efforts meant to placate students. Without significant changes to the heating and water systems, the renovations could become just a temporary measure, pushing back a bigger investment that the buildings may necessitate in the future. That said, we are glad the University is taking these first few steps to make student housing more equitable on a campus with a wide disparity of dorm conditions.

Perkins, in particular, as perhaps the least desirable dorm, has often housed students with the least control over where they live on campus: transfer students or those returning from leave. It may be true that complaints about Perkins have become something of a bonding experience for those living in the dorm, generating fodder for jokes such as the legend that “30 percent of students stuck in Perkins meet their future spouses there.” Regardless, the University should continue to put more effort into making it as easy, seamless and welcoming as possible for returning and transfer students to adapt to life at Brown. The quality of Perkins, thus far, has alienated many students who may have already felt some sort of disconnect from the rest of the campus.

In addition, as the Corporation has decided to raise tuition by roughly 4 percent for the third year in a row, Brown should work to make sure that the tuition increase will have a tangible effect on students — either through academic funding or quality of student life — in order to justify its rise. Continued renovations to dormitories will help ensure that students feel like their education and their life on campus are appropriately valued.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Emma Axelrod ’18 and Emma Jerzyk ’17, and its members, Eben Blake ’17 and Leeron Lempel ’19. Send comments to


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