In 1999, Dartmouth's Trustees asked the College to "strengthen the College's residential system to enhance interaction among students and between students and faculty and to develop a greater sense of community among its members." Realizing that a residence hall is more than just a place to rest your head at the end of a busy day, Dartmouth continues to provide opportunities for its students to interact and grow, to learn outside the traditional boundaries of the classroom.
Since 1996, the East Wheelock Cluster has been the site for a broad range of social and education programs in the residential setting. East Wheelock continues to be a model for our efforts to promote student-faculty interaction. New residence halls will also have features designed to foster a sense of community.
Several programs and initiatives focus on faculty-student interaction outside of the classroom. For example, the FAST (Faculty and Students Together) program includes the popular "Take a Professor to Lunch" initiative and regular Book and Author lunches, which feature recent works by Dartmouth faculty. Some academic departments host departmental lunches for students and faculty, and the Dean of the College has worked with faculty to support end-of-term dinners for participants in certain courses. Also on the academic front, the College has added a director of pre-major advising to address student concerns and needs in this area.
One of the more successful efforts to expand social options in recent years has been the "Bigger, Better, Later" program, a student initiative open to the entire campus. One of the program's strengths is its ability to be flexible and responsive to the changing interests of our students. Modified food service hours, an increased number of student performances and an increase in the availability of student-controlled spaces have all occurred in the past five years. Tom Dent Cabin, long a gathering place for various College functions, is now dedicated as a student-controlled social space, hosting up to 15 events per month. The College now subsidizes student tickets for arts performances at the Hopkins Center and athletic events. Examples of late night programming hosted by the Department of Physical Education and Recreation include a late-night paddle on the Connecticut River, an open skate night at Thompson Arena with music and refreshments and a "spa night" in Collis Center prior to exam period, featuring massage, relaxation meditation, yoga and refreshments.