reed magazine logospring2007

this new 'old' house

  Rendering of new Dorm

Drawing of one of four new residence halls that will form a quad on the north side of campus at the edge of the Reed canyon. (Architectural drawings of north-campus quad courtesy of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects)

  Archive photo, Anna Mann early 1930's

Anna Mann in the early 1930s. (Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library)


Ask a random roomful of Reedies to weigh the pros and cons of living on campus, and you’re likely to touch off a debate worthy of Hum 110.

For some students, off campus is clearly the way to go. They relish the opportunity to leave school every day and live out in the “real world.” They want to make up their own rules, and they enjoy the perks of independent living—like cooking for themselves and smoking in the living room. Plus, for students on a limited budget, it can be a frugal alternative to the full room-and-board plan.

But increasingly, Reed students love living on campus even more. In fact, the college currently can’t keep up with demand; more than 100 requests for rooms are turned down each year. Many of today’s Reedies want to live on campus for three or even four years to stay connected to the college’s intellectual, social, and political life. And they say they enjoy the perks of dorm life—beginning with not having to traipse through the rain and cook their own meals.

“Because our campus is relatively small, living on campus makes going to the library, commons, etc., very easy,” says Kailyn McCord ’09, an English major from California who served as a house adviser this year in one of the cross-canyon residence halls, earning free room and board along the way. As much as McCord appreciates dorm life, she admits that the intense interactions on campus can have a downside, contributing to what she calls the “bubble effect” at Reed. “I sometimes go weeks without leaving campus,” she says, “simply because all the necessities are so close, which can seriously challenge my sanity.”

That proximity is a blessing for Christian Lee ’07, who spent his senior year living in Old Dorm Block. “I felt I would have the least amount of distractions if I didn’t have to worry about paying rent, or making dinner for myself, or transporting myself back and forth from school,” he says. “My dorm room is arguably the closest to everything. I really appreciate not having to worry about how I’m going to get home at night.”

For perhaps as long as there have been residence halls at Reed, there have also been lively debates about the best places to live. Among the most popular student housing choices these days—based on requests to the residence life office—is Anna Mann, the Tudor-style house next to Old Dorm Block. Students lucky enough to live there are drawn to the historic, homey atmosphere of the place, which was originally built as a women’s dormitory by Reed’s founding architect, A.E. Doyle. Students say they appreciate the 87-year-old building’s oddly shaped bedrooms and its comfortable common rooms, where a casual tea is still served on Sunday afternoons, just as it was decades ago.