This spring semester, Armington’s Community Life Council (CLC) is seeking to restore the dorm’s image within the Westmont community. In a recent interview, Karis Cho, a Spiritual Formation Coordinator (SFC), explains that many students on campus currently view Armington as “the armpit of campus,” labeling it with terms such as “gross,” “ugly,” and “dark.”
However, the dorm’s CLC hopes to see a change in the image of Westmont’s hidden gem. “Ideally, it would be a communal space with the right amount of seeing people,” shares Cho. This outdoor retreat and treehouse-like space would have “an element of choice in how social you want to be.” Cho reminds us that when Armington was built in the ‘70s, the designers envisioned the dorm as a “hip artist colony” that provided students with a space to reflect and create in a forest atmosphere, while also allowing for the opportunity of community among friends and neighbors.
The goal this spring is to reimagine the dorm by restoring the community element to Armington. This reimaging will hopefully involve Armington residents, as well as the broader Westmont community. Within the dorm, Cho explains the importance of fostering a welcoming atmosphere and influencing more students to visit the secluded hall. “I have tried to invite people down and create an inviting space in my room, practically forcing my friends to come down in order to hang out with me,” the SFC jokes, going on to explain that, “when they come, they always say, ‘I thought it was so gross down here, but the trees are actually kind of beautiful.’” With the addition of a couch and many other personal touches, Cho’s room is warm and hospitable, proving that the stereotype of Armington is only that: a stereotype.
This reimagining will take place outside of the individual rooms as well. Amanda Chiou — an Armington Global Liaison (GL) — reveals that, although no plans are set, change might occur in public spaces like the courtyard next to C lounge or in the balconies. Ideally, these areas would provide another opportunity for community besides the lounges.
On a grander scope, the crux of the change must come from the language we as a student body rely on. “The vocabulary we use to talk about Armington is important,” explains Cho, “terms like ‘armpit of campus’ are catchy and somewhat clever, but ultimately unhelpful.” This language continues an attitude of distancing that separates the hall from the rest of campus, belittling the very place in which many Westmont students live. When hearing negative vocabulary like this, Chiou shares: “I feel bad, not that I live in Armington, but because they are talking about my home in that way.” Chiou envisions a change in the language applied to the dorm that reflects her own view of Armington as “cozy” and “homey.”
Rachel Schulz, Karis Cho’s roommate, beautifully emphasized that when walking down into the forest of the dorm, “it feels like going home and leaving school.” Armington is hoping to communicate this sentiment to the larger Wesmont community, changing its reputation as a gross outgrowth to an essential part of campus.