New Student Housing Will Be a Bunch of Yurts

by HOLLY LYNE Feb. 27, 2019

According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, the Harpswell Apartments will be demolished and converted into yurts by the fall of 2020. This initiative is part of a policy that bans juniors from living off campus and allows only 6.9% of seniors to live off campus ever again.

This policy change sets Bowdoin apart from other NESCAC colleges, where students live in normal dorms instead of yurts. Not only that, but the cutting edge construction of yurts where the Apartments now stand will set Bowdoin apart from every other college in the country, who have not yet thought to replace traditional dorms with more yurt-like structures.

In a December 12 email to students and faculty, Foster sent a lovingly hand-drawn sketch of the proposed yurts. Each yurt will feature three sets of bunk beds, a wood stove for heating, and a leftover LEED Certified cushion from the Roux Center. In lieu of traditional bathrooms, yurt residents will share a bucket full of sawdust shavings that will be regularly cleaned and refilled by the Bowdoin Outing Club. When some members of the Bowdoin community questioned the unexpected decision, Foster justified it by responding, “Is it in the College’s financial interest to have lots of students living off-campus? Not when they could be living among the pines and foraging for nuts like squirrels, it’s not.”

Current Harpswell residents look forward to the proposed changes. “I’ll always miss the relaxing and comfortable vibe of having a ceiling, but now I’ll be able to gaze through the massive hole in the top of my yurt and count the stars,” said Susie Que ’20. Chad von Reicht ’21 also voiced his support, chortling, “I can’t wait to bring chicks back to my yurt.”

Foster noted that Harpswell’s infrastructure is out of date, citing it as the driving reason behind the decision to renovate. He said, “It is clear we haven’t invested in upper-classmen housing, since people would literally rather live in a yurt than in one of our depressing gray apartments facing a giant parking lot. While our new housing may not be hygienic, comfortable, or safe, it will at least preserve as many of these 100-foot pines as we can.”

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