Emerson closes doors

As Emerson Hall begins its last year, residents reflect on how the oldest all-male dorm on campus has impacted their lives.


Men of Emerson reflect on the time they spent in the soon to be retired dorm. | Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

Alex Bell, Writer

This year marks the last for Emerson Hall, the campus’ oldest and only all-male dorm, before Biola converts it into faculty offices. While this transition results naturally from Biola’s growth, staff and students admit the shift will not be easy.

“I think there is a sadness that goes along with it [being Emerson’s last year]…I’m sad the Emerson-specific community is ending but I think I’m also sad that this is the only all-male dorm and it will not be replaced,” said Emerson resident director, Kevin Cram.


Emerson has impacted residents in unexpected ways. Senior business major and resident advisor DJ Cortez expressed disappointment when he was placed in the only all-male dorm during a life stage in which getting to know the other gender seemed pivotal. However, after spending time in Emerson and deepening his relationships with other residents, Cortez began to recognize the dorm’s value.

“Because Emerson is an all guys dorm and it’s small, it gives the opportunity for all of the floors to mingle and become brothers,” said sophomore business major and resident advisor Andrew Divjak.

Positive reviews of Emerson are not a new trend. Cram said that residents from as far back as the 1960s still visit and can point out items with their names on it.  

“Emerson has meant something to them,” Cram said.

Men of Emerson reflect on the years they spent in the soon to be retired dorm. Though Emerson's time is coming to an end, their legacy will live on. | Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES


Emerson’s community keeps drawing residents back year after year. Senior film major Joshua Nelson lived in Emerson for his first two years and decided to move back for his last year.

“I have seen completely different groups of people live there but there still seems to be a unifying mindset that is set apart from other dorms. The emphasis is on figuring out what it looks like to be brothers regardless of social standing,” Nelson said.

However, Emerson’s allure is not isolated to its spiritual aspects. The community’s fun-loving nature draws in residents.

“We listened to a bunch of bad ‘80s music dancing shirtless, and I fell in love with the place even then,” Nelson said while reflecting on the unique experiences that come with living in Emerson.


A common theme of acceptance among residents marks another distinguishing aspect of Emerson. Senior business major Taylor Wilson highlighted the welcoming atmosphere.

“When you walk down the halls people will talk to you. When you walk in the lobby, if there are people sitting there, they will say hi. When you walk down the hall if there is a door open you feel free to go in and have a conversation with them,” Wilson said.

However, Emerson’s comradery does not end there.

“There’s something cool about finding someone else who has lived in Emerson because there is an immediate connection,” Nelson said. “We’ve shared this connection together and even though I do not know anything about you, I know that there is a great pool of things we can talk about and get into just by the fact that you lived in this dorm.”


As Biola closes the chapter on a cherished residence hall, optimism for the future remains.

“I’m excited for the Emerson community to spread out and bring some of the things we have here that we love and care about to the rest of the community,” said Cram.

Biola continues to grow and change, while remembering its foundation. Chad Miller, director of spiritual formation, reflects back on his time living in Emerson as a student and how it shaped him.

“There is much to laugh about from those days, but most importantly, my time in Emerson invited me into a lifetime of deeply developmental conversations that have lasted to this very day,” Miller said. “Since I know I'm not alone in this, I want to do everything I can to make sure that in 10, 20 and even 50 years from now, people will remember Emerson's legacy as a residence hall.”

As Biola says goodbye to Emerson, with their beloved choreographed nationball dances and signature film festival, Emerson’s residents do not say goodbye to the community the hall fostered.

“Emerson may not be a physical presence on campus anymore but we have the opportunity to take what we have learned from Emerson out to wherever God takes us in our lives,” said Cortez.


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