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Shades of Greycliff

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01


As many of us walk or ride the bus up and down Commonwealth Avenue, we notice the little house-like building with Greycliff on the front of it. Few of us know more about this one tiny off campus dorm, besides the fact that it is the honors house.

Sam Sawyer, A&S ’00, who is in his second year as an RA at Greycliff, states “The three primary things that make Greycliff different: It has more Honors kids percentage-wise than any place on campus, it is smaller and it is a little bit farther away from campus.”

These three aspects of the dorm shape it and make it a unique place. And it is these same three aspects that cause the mixed feelings that many of its residents, especially the freshmen, have for the dorm. There is one thing that most agree upon. Entering Greycliff at the end of the day is like coming home.

“It really was like coming home. Freshman year, classes were over, everyone parts ways and I got to go home to Greycliff,” reminisces Andrew Frey, A&S ’01.

Nicole Cotroneo, A&S ’02, who lived there last year, agrees. “It sounds so cheesy, but Greycliff is like my home. It’s true. It definitely does not have a regular dorm feel. You don’t feel like you’re in a mental hospital with cold brick walls. We have carpeting, pretty moldings and a wooden staircase. Every room is different. I guess because it is so small and not in a long hallway format it’s more homey and people tend to feel like more neighborly”

Daniele Wilson, A&S ’02, who also lived there last year, felt there was an extent to which she could enjoy the atmosphere. “It is kind of like a family atmosphere. Everyone gets to know everyone else really well, which is kind of a good thing and a bad thing,” she says.

Some students found that Greycliff’s intimate atmosphere combined with a higher percentage of honors students increased the quality of the discussions.

“Living in Greycliff, you get to live with a lot of really interesting people, who you will also be spending time with in class. Because it is small groups, and it is a little further from campus, you have the impetus or chance to form a really tight great community … Freshman year, there were a bunch of people who right away we just clicked. From the very first couple of days we ate dinner together, we hung out in the city together. Our theme movie for the year became Dead Poets Society. We had kind of that eclectic community going on where we all knew what was going on with each other,” says Sawyer.

Another former resident Gary Gabor, A&S ’02, who is going to be the male RA there next year, also found a quality conversation there. “You were able to engage in strong thoughtful arguments from time to time, without the need to force them or have them in any class type setting. There were people there who were genuinely interested not just in intellectual matters but political, social, dealing with the arts ... Basically because it was a group of bright and funny kids with a lot of wit. There are a number of witty people from Greycliff,” he says.

Although most people agree that the close-knit community is over all very positive, some feel that the fact that Greycliff is off campus is definitely a negative issue.

“I dislike that you have to walk so far off campus to get to it,” states Deirdre Quinn, A&S ’03.

Quinn is not alone in her view. The distance from campus is one of the first complaints that a Greycliff resident might voice.

“People who want to complain usually complain about the distance, but I don’t think that there is any disadvantage associated with the walk. Quite frankly, we are really close to campus anyway. CLX is as far away to some parts of campus as Greycliff is, and it is closer than Newton. At least we have the choice to walk when the bus doesn’t show up,” states Sawyer.

Clayton Samuels, A&S ’00, also feels that the distance is not an issue. Samuels is finishing up his fourth year at Greycliff. Many residents feel that Samuels is synonymous with the dorm. His friends even call him Claycliff. “I get asked why I still live here all of the time.

“It’s because it’s the best of both worlds. You’re living off campus with most of the advantages of living off. If you’re wanting to live off campus it’s the ideal place. I have the meal plan and the Ethernet hook up and the phone. At the same time I have access to a kitchen, I live right across from a T stop, and I also have a single, so I have my own space. It is about as close to campus as you can get for not living on. What I don’t get is when I tell people that I live in Greycliff, they are like, ‘Oh that is so far away.’ But if you tell someone that you live on South Street, they think you’re close to campus,” recalls Samuels.

Because Greycliff is the Honors dorm, it tends to be quieter than most. Often, this is a reason that residents choose to live here.

“You’re not as exposed to some of the problems and the noise. People who tend to live here tend to go elsewhere to drink, so you don’t have as much of the noise. It is a better atmosphere for academics,” states Timberly Humbert, A&S ’03.

Although the quietness is generally a plus, some incoming freshmen are frustrated by it.

“In a way, I dislike the fact that it is so quiet here. It’s kind of a drawback and a plus. Also, there are not enough freshmen. I don’t think that it is a good place for freshmen,” states Quinn.

This academic year began with 18 out of the 43 spots in Greycliff being filled with freshmen. Some requested it and some did not. This is the case almost every year. However, “there was a housing crunch last year which meant that people ended up with housing choices that they were not perfectly happy with, which is true for some of the people who aren’t freshmen here. Their desire to live elsewhere then becomes [exacerbated] by the fact that we are off campus, and it’s in the Honors house,” says Sawyer.

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