Thousands of graduates who have gone through Bob Jones University have called the residence halls home and share a similar dorm experience.
From the coveted bottom of the double bed to the signature wood furniture, not much has changed in recent history.
But last year’s announcement of the freshman floor has shaken up residence hall life for freshmen students and residence hall students.
In the 2016 spring semester, reports began to circulate about the possibility of a freshman hall—something that had never been available at BJU before.
Near the end of the semester, the University confirmed that both Smith and Gaston would pilot an all-freshman hall.
Mrs. Rebecca Weier, director of First-Year Experience, said the concept of a freshman hall is nothing new.
Many colleges and universities have converted to the model.
Implementing a freshman hall has been discussed for years at BJU.
Weier emphasized the importance of suggestions by last year’s Student Leadership Council in implementing the freshman floor.
The University’s purpose for freshman floor is to develop camaraderie within the freshman class as well as create an environment where new students feel comfortable to ask questions and get help.
Weier said there’s a big difference between what a freshman needs to know and what a senior needs to know.
When students left for summer vacation, First-Year Experience and Student Life & Discipleship were left to decide what a freshman hall at BJU would look like.
It became clear that discipleship groups would play an important part in the new freshman halls.
Smith residence hall supervisor Andrew Goodwill said, “[Discipleship group] hits at what the purpose of the University is: we are training them in a profession, we are giving them those life skills, but it’s all so they can go and represent Christ in the community.”
Among other changes, group leaders and assistant group leaders were handpicked to lead each discipleship group.
Over half the AGLs on the men’s freshman floor are sophomores—a decision that Goodwill said was intentional.
Goodwill felt that sophomores, not far removed from the struggles and excitement of freshman year, were especially equipped to assist incoming students.
Still after months of preparation, no one knew for sure how freshman would react to the change.
But as the semester has progressed, the feedback continues to be positive.
Freshman business administration major, Jason Holland, comments on the experience.
“Freshman hall is crazy, loud, fun. And everyone is excited,” Holland said.
On the topic, Gaston residence hall mentor Krista Daniel said, “Being around others that are in your classes and that are also new at this whole college thing has really helped everyone settle in.”
“They are really engaged in life here.”
Although she agreed that the initial reaction to the freshman floor was overwhelmingly positive, Weier could not confirm that the change would be permanent.
But optimistic residence hall supervisors and an excited and unified freshman class suggest that the freshman floor may be the new norm for incoming classes.
Freshman physics major Isaac Landry also commented on the experience.
“I think freshman hall is a great experience overall for the freshmen,” Landry said.