At the end of this past term, Bennington College students experienced an abbreviated move-out period that came one day after classes officially ended. Coupled with the arrival of harsh winter weather, the shortened move-out period complicated end-of-term departures in some cases, and led to confusion or frustration in others. The majority of students were unaffected, however, by the shortened move out period, having finished their classes earlier in the week, and so moved out with relative ease. Nevertheless, the change in schedule requires reevaluation, and is another aspect of the ever-evolving form of Bennington College that will inevitably change again.
When asked about the impetus for the change, Dean of the College Isabel Roche had this to say: “Well it’s something that we’ve been thinking about for a while and had been in conversation with Eva about. Both in terms of [...] student arrival and student departure–– to make those as seamless as possible. But really, as appropriately close to the start and end of classes as they can be.” The school has very little turn-over time to clean and maintain the student houses, which are also used for its low-residency MFA program, between the departure of undergrads and the arrival of the other programs onto campus.
“[Students] come here, live here, do their work, and leave, and unless they stay here for field work term or summer they don’t see a lot of the behind the scenes work that happens. In particular [housing and work on housing] and the general upkeep––we really use every minute that we can.”
Ultimately, the administration is focused on the academic side of its institution, and so when thinking about the term’s schedule, the final decision has to originate from that perspective. Once classes have stopped, it would be logical to have students leave, as the prerogative of the school is to educate, not provide housing. That said, the experiences of students who had a harder time at the end of this term are not being overlooked.“Unpack it. Did that work? Did that make sense? Did the school provide the students with enough support?” Dean Roche said. This particular change in schedule had been in discussion for nearly three years, coinciding with the choice to let students who lived in Colonial houses (roughly ⅔ of campus) store their belongings in their rooms over FWT. Now it has become a priority for the school to see that move-in and move-out is just as easy for 3rd Street residents as it is for the rest of campus. The Dean’s Office encourages students to be vocal about possible suggestions, or with any feedback they have about the school’s academic calendar.