The Masters boarding community welcomed its first co-ed senior dorm––Cushing––this year. Cush-ing used to be a dorm designated to accommodate CityTerm students, but since the program ended last year, Cushing is now the sixth dorm available on campus. When Masters became a co-ed school in 1996, all dorms on-campus were separated into dorms for male-identifying or female-identifying students. Thus, the creation of a co-ed dorm brings anticipation as well as concerns to both the boarders and dorm faculty members who are trying their best to adjust to the new living situation.
Jayde Bennett, the director of residential life, said that the primary intention of opening the co-ed dorm was to even out the number of students in each dorm in response to the New York State Protocol for COVID-19. However, in consideration of students’ different levels of familiarity with certain rules within the boarding community, the School decided to open it as a seniors-only dorm in order to reduce the possibility of students violating these restrictions. So far, students have been adjusting pretty well.
Cushing’s senior proctor Chad Zhao says, “The school did a good job in ensuring that boys and girls cannot enter each other’s dorm by having all the boys live on the third
floor and girls on the second, and imposing locks and se- curity cameras on each floor, but the common area is a place shared by all to increase a sense of community.”
Having a senior-only dorm enables students to be immersed in a familiar environment, where a group of people is aiming towards the same goal and giving each other strength during this significant stage of their high school life. Senior Marie Kyo said, “I really prefer Cushing over my previous dorms because the overall environment was respectful and less chaotic. Having someone next door who’s going through the same thing as I am makes me feel less lonely and more positive towards the future because we are in this together.”
New dorm parent Arlene Casey also enjoyed living with the seniors, and as one of the youngest dorm parents on campus, she said, “Although this is my first year being a dorm parent, I never felt overwhelmed by having to repeat the rules and procedures to the kids in our dorm because they are mature and sensible in taking care of each other and the dorm as a whole.”
The school does intend to give senior boarders a little privilege in having their own space on campus by decorating and renovating the dorm. Additionally, unless invited by a senior, students from other dorms are not allowed to go to Cushing, which helps the residents to prevent disruptions.
Bennett said, “We wanted the seniors to enjoy their last year on campus in a nice environment, so we also redid the common room to make it more comfortable.”
Although Cushing will most likely not be a senior dorm in the future, the school is considering to keep it as a co-ed dorm as they hope to not only accommodate male or female identifying students, but also provide a safe and inclusive environment for non-binary students. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have always been prioritized in the Masters community and their significance will also be reflected in the dorm arrangements.
Bennett said, “I would love for us to continue to have a space for the co-ed dorm because it’s the best way for the school to serve all of our students in an equitable manner; we should not force non-binary students to choose one way or another, instead, allowing them to be authentic and confident to their own identities.