Dunne Hall: Building a New Community
Students explain new dorm traditions
Dunne Hall, the new men’s dorm built on the northeast corner of campus during the 2015-2016 school year, opened this past August. Now, halfway through the fall 2016 semester, Dunne is well on its way to becoming a dorm with just as much identity and community as dorms that have stood for decades longer.
In early 2016, the university revealed that the name of the new dorm was taken from donors Jimmy and Susan Dunne, who gave $20 million to its construction. Dunne Hall offers many brand-new accommodations, including air conditioning, an outdoor patio and large lawn space, a community lounge with an attached kitchenette on each floor, an indoor balcony, a state-of-the-art workout room, and study rooms.
To fill the new dorm, male students applied last year to live in Dunne for the 2016-2017 school year. Junior John Gibbons, previously of Knott Hall, said that he saw how nice Dunne Hall looked and thought it would be exciting to be a part of building a new community. He admitted that there were challenges to living in a new dorm, especially since he never set foot in the dorm until move-in day in August. “The adjustment was a little difficult figuring out how to organize things,” he told the Rover, “but after a week or two, it was not bad at all.”
Another difficulty of being a new dorm has been creating a unique identity for Dunne Hall on a campus already filled with iconic dorms and their signature events. Senior RA Michael Romano, previously of Dillon Hall, told the Rover, “One of the best parts about Dillon was that it already had a very strong sense of tradition as one of the oldest dorms on campus.” However, he and the rest of the dorm have wholeheartedly embraced the challenge of beginning traditions in Dunne that will last for years. “Older dorms sometimes get complacent,” Romano explained, “but being a part of a new community brings a whole new level of energy to the dorm experience.”
To get the ball rolling, the men of Dunne Hall voted on a mascot (Sentinels), colors (navy, gray, and lime green), and hall council, and now they are in the process of determining signature dorm activities. Many dorms have already claimed certain holidays or events, so the dorm has jumped enthusiastically at this creative challenge. “The challenging part has been narrowing down ideas to what is actually possible,” Romano continued to the Rover. “So many students have so many ideas, but we can only do so much.” He was quick to add, “This is a good problem to have!”
In addition to forming Dunne’s identity, the hall also faces the challenge of building a new community within the dorm. As most students live in their respective dorm for the entirety of their stay on campus, dorm life is often close-knit and familiar. In Dunne, because male students could apply to join, many of the upperclassmen did not previously know each other. However, both Gibbons and Romano said that it has been fun to get to know other people. “I feel like it might even be easier to be an RA of new students I didn’t know before,” joked Romano, “because they weren’t around to see me make stupid mistakes as an underclassman!”
Both also pointed immediately to the support of their rector, Father Matt Kuczora, and the rest of the hall staff in making Dunne feel like home. Fr. Matt bought a ping-pong table “that is constantly in use,” said Gibbons, “so people hang out together on the first floor all the time.” The hall staff has also held several cookouts and dorm events such as sports tournaments so that students can get to know each other.
“From warm, thought-provoking homilies at Sunday Mass to level-headed, inspirational leadership, Fr. Matt makes Dunne feel as if it has been established for years,” freshman Nicholas Lampson told the Rover. He also praised the RAs for their efforts in building community within their sections. For example, Michael Romano has begun an activity called “Core-to-Core-to-Core” on Tuesday nights. “It starts with a Romano-led abdominal workout, in which we work our physical core, in the third floor common room,” explains Lampson. “From there, we work on our spiritual core at Tuesday night Mass in the Basil Moreau Chapel, led by Father Kevin Grove. Finally, we all head up to Fr. Kevin’s room and work on our social core by conversing and eating apples to the core.”
Although Dunne Hall has only been open for two months, a walk through it would suggest that it is already a well-established dorm with an identity of its own. “Any trip on any given weeknight will show that Dunne has already successfully built a thriving community,” continued Lampson. “Although there is still room to grow, I would say we are off to a great start!”
Monica VanBerkum is a freshman majoring in the College of Arts and Letters and living in Cavanaugh Hall. She enjoys cooking and baking, and she bribes all her friends with cookies. Contact Monica at firstname.lastname@example.org.