After a lengthy renovation process, North Pole Bay is once again filled with life.
Not only is the updated building sporting a new interior layout, it’s also now the home to a specific kind of student – a mature one.
While those living in North Pole are spread across disciplines and range in school years, they are all over the age of 19.
“This is just something we wanted to try out,” says Kristian Rafuse, Assistant Dean of Students and don of North Pole. “In general, we’re trying to build an interest in staying on campus beyond first year. I think having upper year students on campus has incredible value.”
Rafuse hopes that having older students around campus will set some examples for those who are new to being independent. One of these examples is the mature and responsible consumption of alcohol.
Unlike other dorms on campus, those living in North Pole are allowed to have open alcohol in their common room.
The school is trying out what Rafuse likes to call “restaurant rules.” Students are permitted a glass of wine or beer with a meal but it isn’t a place where they can party or get drunk. While only the students of legal drinking age can take advantage of this new rule, Rafuse says he isn’t prohibiting younger students from being present and using the common space as a guest.
He hopes this will normalize safe drinking.
“It teaches self-policing,” he says. “The Wardroom is already a great example of that.”
The on campus bar, The Wardroom, holds a license that allows students of all ages to use the social space at the same time. Many believe this teaches younger students that it’s possible to have a good night out without drinking.
Itai Kuwodza, a second year l student living in the newly renovated dorm, says the new living space has provided her with an alternative to living off campus – something she isn’t yet ready to do.
“Being an international student, my mom didn’t think that moving into an apartment in my second year would be the best,” says Kuwodza, who moved from Zimbabwe to attend King’s.
“I’m still kind of new and I haven’t figured things out. Last year there was some talk of an upper year residence and it just seemed like what I wanted.”
Kuwodza says that this new kind of campus living has allowed her to maintain her independence while still being a part of the shared community. She admits that she’s even considering staying in the dorm for the next couple of years.
“It’s not too crowded and everyone is mature and respectful,” she says. “One night [the don] made everyone nachos so we sat, we ate, we talked, had some beers. It was very cool.”
She thinks that the extra freedom keeps residents from going overboard when it comes to alcohol.
“When you have a glass of wine [in the common room], you just pour it and then put the bottle away,” she says.
Although the trial run for the mature living space is going well, both Rafuse and Kuwodza aren’t convinced it’s the right option for first year students, even for those who are of age.
These concerns are mostly due to the fact that the new dorm only offers single rooms, taking away the option to have a roommate.
According to Kuwodza, her experiences with a roommate in her first year helped with the transition from Zimbabwe to Canada and made her feel instantly a part of the community at King’s.
Rafuse worries about students missing out on that type of experience.
“I’m pretty firm when it comes to a shared space and its benefits to new students,” says Rafuse.
Despite this concern, Rafuse says there will be many chances to figure out what works best with the new style of dorm. This year the number of mature students applying to live on campus just happened to provide the opportunity to designate a whole building to them.
“Maybe next year we’ll have fewer upper-years apply or we’ll have a large number of first-years who absolutely need single rooms,” says Rafuse. “In that case, the dynamic of the building would change once again.”