Hecht, Stanford stereotypes shape freshman perspective

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As future members of the Class of 2017 rejoice in their acceptances and interact on Facebook, the rumors about the Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges are already swirling.

“Hecht or Stanford guys?” one high school senior posts, and dozens of comments start to roll in.

“From what I’ve heard, Hecht dorms are more welcoming to the party atmosphere, if that interests you,” one comments.

“My friend is currently in Stanford and says they’re about equal in partying even though Hecht has more of a rep!” another responds.

These comments were taken from a closed group on Facebook for admitted students to the Class of 2017.

In an online survey conducted by The Miami Hurricane, only 21 percent of students had no opinion about either dorm before arriving at UM. Three quarters believed that Hecht is the party dorm, and more than half thought that Stanford is the studious dorm.

“There’s certainly nothing that we do from a housing perspective to indicate that there’s a difference between the buildings or that there’s a different vibe or feel,” said Christopher Hartnett, associate director for residence life. “I think some of it honestly is some urban myth and urban legend that students have passed down form one year to another.”

Although information about average GPA by dorm could not be released, the Dean of Students Office keeps record of disciplinary violations in each building.

“From year to year, there are always fewer disciplinary violations in the spring than in the fall, especially with Hecht and Stanford because they’re freshman,” Dean of Students Ricardo Hall said.

However, Hall said he is not aware of a significant difference between the social cultures of the two freshman dorms. With each class, it does take on a different identity, he said.

“This class is really starting to explore all the options Miami has to offer,” Hall remembered thinking of the 2010-2011 class.

In fall 2010, Hecht had 314 violations, and Stanford had 170. This dropped to 142 for Hecht and 61 for Stanford in spring 2011. These range from the most minor incidents, such as noise violations, to the most severe, such as theft or assault, according to Hall.

Across the board, violations decreased in the 2011-2012 academic year, with Hecht having 237 total and Stanford having 177.

“We try to figure out what are the reasons behind the differences,” Hall said.

Hall said that all freshmen receive the same consistent messages during orientation, and they are exposed to Resident Assistants and Academic Fellows who all have the same training and provide the same services.

One factor that Hall said may contribute to Stanford’s lower number of violations is that the Rosborough tower includes substance free floors.

“That takes out close to 100 students who are likely not going to have any violations,” he said.

Hall expects the numbers to decline and level off between Hecht and Stanford for 2012-2013, straying away from the stereotypes.

“I’m sure stereotypes tend to be a product of oral history,” Hall said. “… How would a person even know, unless they heard it from someone?”

According to the survey, students gathered information about the dorms’ reputations from current UM students, campus tours and sources on the Internet ranging from Facebook to College Confidential.

“I’m not sure how much there is that we can do to combat it prior to them arriving because obviously the online Facebook legend will probably survive,” Hartnett said.

Freshman William Cafero, who lives in Stanford, had requested Hecht when he applied for housing the summer before arriving at UM. He preferred Hecht because he thought the building was nicer, with better elevators and lobbies, but he had also heard about the dorms’ reputations in advance.

“I heard that in Hecht most of the kids partied and stuff like that, but Stanford was more of a sober dorm,” he said. “That’s what people were saying before I came here, like random kids, Facebook things.”

It could also be a matter of perception becoming reality, Hall said.

“Sometimes we live up or down to those stereotypes,” he said.

This would be in the form of dorm choice. Sixty-five percent of students surveyed said the reputations that they heard about in advance affected their decision.

Cafero said this aspect did not affect his choice, however, and after living in the dorms, he does not feel there is a defining difference as far as who works or plays harder.

Thirty percent of students surveyed agreed that, after living in one of the dorms, they found there to be no difference between the two.

“I think quickly they get here and once they have friends that live in both buildings, are participating in programs together, and they meet friends outside of their floor, I think those perceptions go away,” Hartnett said.

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About Author

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.

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