End in sight for Emerson

This is the second article in a two-part series regarding the decision to phase out Emerson as a dorm and convert it into offices. The first article, “Emerson transitioning from beds to desks,” was published in the Feb. 6 issue.


Sophomore Daniel Shepherd takes a break from refereeing to lead his dorm, Emerson, in their annual Nationball dance. | Natalie Lockard/THE CHIMES

Anna Frost, Writer

This is the second article in a two-part series regarding the decision to phase out Emerson as a dorm and convert it into offices. See the first article here.

Sophomore Daniel Shepherd takes a break from refereeing to lead his dorm, Emerson, in their annual Nationball dance last fall. Students share their feelings about losing Emerson Hall to be utilized as offices. | Natalie Lockard/THE CHIMES


Those who live in Emerson Hall found many of the same words to describe their beloved dorm, which will be repurposed for offices after the next academic year. Since no definite plans have been made to reincarnate the all-male dorm elsewhere on campus, this strong, unique community of gentlemen is losing more than just beds in the shuffle.

“I think there might be that little extra special community, at least that we’ve experienced that might be lost. It might be not something that’s noticeable to everybody as a whole but — to the guys who’ve lived here — it’s something that’s different than an all-guys floor in a co-ed dorm,” said Emerson resident and freshman human biology major Blake Wigglesworth.


Emerson is the smallest residence hall, with just over 100 men in the entire dorm, which provides residents with the unique opportunity to know everyone, said Emerson Hall resident director Kevin Cram. Even some of Emerson’s downsides help create the close-knit environment that the guys laud as special.

“I think there’s even a benefit to Emerson not having air conditioning. The people who choose Emerson are choosing it for specific reasons. They’re not choosing it because it’s the nicest room … they’re returning because they want to be here and they want to be with these guys and they want to be involved in the community,“ Cram said.

It is hard for some to pinpoint the source of the residence hall’s atmosphere, though all agreed that the dorm has created memorable experiences for those who have lived in it.

“It’s kind of unexplainable, I like how it’s just, it’s Emerson, it’s different,” said Emerson Rustland, freshman kinesiology major and Emerson resident.


The housing department is making it possible for all of Emerson’s current residents to stay for the dorm’s final year, said Cram in a letter about the dorm’s closing. Many residents plan to return as part of the community for the last year, though freshman sociology major Mark Gun-guy said he is looking to change dorms and become part of another community.

“I think it’s sad that we’re going to miss the community that was built up here and all the guys … but I feel like life will go on and community will thrive somewhere else, as it always does,” Gun-guy said.

Along the same lines of Gun-guy, Emerson resident and sophomore film and political science major Sean Ford believes that the men make the dorm special, not the building.

“Biola is losing the greatest dorm that has ever existed … but at the same time they are losing a building. I mean, Emerson is the people, and it’s the guys that make up the community, so if we continue that elsewhere then so be it,” Ford said.


As the resident director who watches over the men of Emerson, Cram has fond memories of his experience in the dorm. He said he loves the close nature of the small dorm and the opportunity he has had to work with the guys. Cram expected to stay with Emerson for the duration of his time as a resident director when he accepted the position three years ago, but he sees adventure in starting fresh elsewhere on campus.

“It’s exciting for me to be able to try and encapsulate and internalize some of the things that I value about this place and try and bring those with me into a new community … it’s an opportunity for growth for me. It’s exciting and yet at the same time, I love my time here. It’ll be sad for it to go,” Cram said.

In balancing the sadness of losing the Emerson community and the prospect of beginning again at North Hall, Cram impressed the importance of looking forward while holding past memories close.

“So the question is not, ‘Do you just celebrate this and mourn the rest of your life?’ No, you celebrate this and you take it with you and you invite others into it. And so that’s my hope for the closing, that we can really take things with us, embody them, internalize them and offer them to other people and other communities,” Cram said.

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