As the time for next year’s housing decisions approaches, Hope College students are exploring their options and getting all of their ducks in a row. Students must find friends to room with and plan out where they want to live; a decision that could end in any number of ways. Hope provides quite a variety of living options for its students, who can choose from eleven different dorms, which is what many freshmen and sophomores often do. However, as students become juniors and seniors, the majority of upperclassmen choose to live in either off-campus apartments around Holland or in one of Hope’s 68 available cottages surrounding campus. These cottages are owned by Hope, but have a completely different feel than a campus dorm.
Each of Hope’s cottages can house anywhere from 4 to 10 people, which provides an opportunity for groups of friends to live together in their own home instead of having to choose a single roommate or hoping buds have dorm rooms close by. The group of cottage residents also has the benefit of a personal living room and kitchen, something that is often missed in college dorms. One similarity between Hope’s cottages and dorms is the presence of resident assistants (RAs). This position, however, has many different requirements depending on whether or not the RA lives in a dorm or cottage. The resident assistant of a cottage is tasked with the delegation of chores to their residents, as the people living in the house are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the entire house–not just their own room.
Luckily, this responsibility doesn’t stretch so far as the maintenance of malfunctions in the house; the RA can always call Hope’s Physical Plant to fix a shattered window or burst pipe. Another job of the RAs in both dorms and cottages is to throw events for their residents, each of varying size and grandeur. Cottage events can include the members of your home for something such as weekly Saturday morning breakfasts, or the event can be the entire street of houses getting together for a “neighborhood event.” These larger activities range from Super Bowl parties to group t-shirt painting get-togethers with supplies provided.
Each neighborhood RA staff is issued a budget to use when throwing events such as these, which follows the same system as the dorms. Ben Douma (‘20), a resident of Hope’s Rider Cottage, shares his opinion on house living. The feel of a cottage, Douma said, is “a lot more homey” compared to that of a dorm. “The extra living space is nice,” he said, as it provides an additional hangout space to be with his housemates outside of their room. There is also the benefit of having a kitchen and fridge at their disposal–the best of both worlds for cottage residents now able to have a balance of their own personal food while still being able to make a trip to Phelps Dining Hall or the Kletz Market as they desire.
Cottages are a hot commodity at Hope, which can make acquiring the perfect home for a group of friends a challenge. Douma recommends anyone in pursuit of a cottage this upcoming year to “get going early and get hooked up with an RA.” “The earlier, the better” is the mindset to be in with cottages, as they tend to fill up very quickly with students eager to get a home with their friends. Of his six housemates, Douma said that “they are good friends of mine” and get along very well. Cottage living treats this group of friends with the experience of independence and the unique community feel provided by Hope’s cottages.