For the first time in history, Middlebury will house undergraduates at the Bread Loaf campus to accommodate some of the more than 300 extra students enrolled at the college this fall. The college also purchased the Inn on the Green in August and arranged several rooms at the Marriott Hotel on Court Street to house students during the semester.
Disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic led to a drastic increase in the college’s student population. This fall, several hundred students returned after taking time off during the 2020-21 academic year, approximately 150 more students remained on campus who would typically have been abroad, and high enrollment in the first-year class brought the student body to more than 2,800.
After exhausting campus dorm spaces and allowing all upperclassmen who applied to live off-campus, additional rooms were still needed to house students. Residential Life assigned 63 students to Bread Loaf and an additional 20 to the Inn on the Green, which the college intends to use for student housing over the next three years. Another 15 students will reside in the Marriott Hotel, according to AJ Place, associate dean of students. The decision to reserve 33 Adirondack View and 220 College Street as quarantine and emergency use spaces further limited on-campus housing options.
The college announced the new Bread Loaf housing option via email July 15, presenting it as a “unique opportunity for juniors and seniors” and an “intentional community.”
Middlebury initially tried to incentivize students to volunteer to live at Bread Loaf by offering a $1,500 room and dining credit to Bread Loaf residents. However, the incentives were later expanded to 50% off room and board costs, an advanced housing selection draw for fall 2022, free ski equipment rentals and passes to the Snow Bowl and Rikert Nordic Center, complimentary laundry service and a faculty/staff parking pass to allow parking anywhere on campus aside from ADA-only spaces.
“After further consideration and conferring with some student groups, we decided to offer a more significant incentive to draw more applicants,” Place said. He also said the costs of housing students at Bread Loaf would exceed any revenue from extra tuition but could not offer more specific estimates.
Only 22 students elected to live at Bread Loaf, while another 41 had no other choice due to a late housing draw time slot. The Marriott residents will receive the same discounted room and board as the Bread Loaf students, but those at Inn on the Green will not.
“We got to Middlebury expecting to have a Middlebury experience, paying to have a Middlebury experience, and not being a part of campus life and having a room on campus is in no way that experience,” Sam Lipin ’23.5 said. Lipin was assigned involuntarily to live at Bread Loaf.
For Lipin, the college’s incentives are insufficient compensation for the social and academic costs of living at Bread Loaf. Further increasing Lipin’s frustration is that he has only had about five weeks of normal campus life. He and other members of the class of 2023.5 living at Bread Loaf came to Midlebury in the spring of 2020 and have not yet experienced a full, normal semester on campus.
“The incentives to me are basically nothing. Honestly, it should probably be all of room and board off, and maybe even some of tuition,” Lipin said.
Residential Life has worked to create the advertised “intentional community” at Bread Loaf by planning social and outdoor activities at the satellite campus, but isolation from the main campus and other obstacles have hampered efforts.
“Since the group of students living at Bread Loaf will be fairly small, we’re expecting to help build a strong community for these students,” Place said. “This will include programming that utilizes outdoor spaces and the resources that are abundant at Bread Loaf.”
Bread Loaf students were promised an on-campus student lounge, but as of Sept. 14, the college is still working to identify and designate an on-campus space to serve as a lounge.
Another concern for Bread Loaf students is transportation between the campuses. Shuttles depart from Bread Loaf beginning at 6 a.m., and run every hour with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break in service. The shuttle also stops at the Marriott before reaching Adirondack Circle (ADK), an estimated half hour after leaving Bread Loaf. On weeknights (Sunday through Wednesday), the final shuttle departs ADK for the Marriott and Bread Loaf at 11:30 p.m., and on weekends (Thursday through Saturday), the last time slot is extended to 1:30 a.m.
Bread Loaf students will have full access to dining halls on the main campus, as well as a continental breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., dinner from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and grab-and-go options offered in the Bread Loaf dining hall. Four positions were added to the dining department to staff the new dining hall; two new hires and two previous employees from the main campus will work at Bread Loaf, according to Executive Director of Food Service Operations Dan Detora. The dining department currently has 12 vacant positions.
Despite the obstacles, Place and Dean of Students Derek Doucet remain optimistic about the success of Bread Loaf.
“We know that there are some inconveniences to the location,” Place and Doucet said in an email to The Campus. “But we are confident this group will find the experience of living at the Bread Loaf campus rewarding.”
Note: Sam Lipin ’23.5 is a Sports Editor for The Campus
Ideal Dowling '22 is an Editor at Large.
She previously served as a copy editor and Local section editor.
Dowling is majoring in Political Science and minoring in French and History. During the summer of 2021, she worked as a consultant for the startup accelerator Aegis Ventures and as a research assistant for Professor Stanley Sloan as he worked on his book "De-Trumping U.S. Foreign Policy: Can Biden Bring America Back?" In addition to her work at The Campus, Dowling is captain of Middlebury's women's squash team and an employee at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.