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Residential Life Decision Records

Identifier: yhm-arc-0000-083

Scope and Contents

The contents of the collection are historically relevant because they reflect the interactions between the institution, alums, current students, parents, and even other institutions. Included in these archives are mostly grievances, but also praise, from alumni considering the Residential Life Decision of 1995. Many alumni stopped their yearly donations to Hamilton College after the Decision was made, and threatened to stop their donations beforehand. Parents of the students attending Hamilton voiced concerns about the continuation of Greek Life housing and still more administrators from other academic organizations applauded Hamilton’s decision to dismantle off-campus housing. With most pieces of correspondence, there are attached responses from a bureaucratic body from the Hamilton College board. There are copies of the extant report in this collection, as well as other studies conducted at Hamilton and partner institutions used for context and comparison within the decision’s core argument. Additionally, there are meeting notes and email strings between the Residential Life Committee and the Student Assembly with campus bureaucracy in terms of proposal and implementation for the decision’s changes. Supporting evidence of continued issues with Fraternities and social polarization are also present in these archives, as they were used to support the Residential Life Decision of 1995.


  • Creation: 1987-1995

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

In 1995 Hamilton College proposed abolishing off-campus housing as a residential option for students—which included and mostly encompassed Fraternities and Sororities. This decision was made based on supporting materials such as studies and ethnographic interviews conducted at Hamilton and elsewhere, out of concern for the impact these communities had on the campus social environment. Fraternities and Sororities were targeted in these decisions as they comprised most of the off-campus student population, and there was cause of concern for academic integrity among chapter members, as well as concern about the contributions of these organizations to underage drinking issues and parties as the primary social scene. The premise of the Residential Life Decision of 1995 was that abolishing the independent operation of these organizations and incorporating/dispersing them into the wider campus would resolve these issues and remove the influence of these organizations as the predominant social groups/spaces on campus.

In some alumni correspondences from Kirkland College alums, there was commentary on the social polarization between the two campus areas—”Dark Side”, or Kirkland College, and “Light Side”, or Hamilton College—and how the Residential Life Decision would counter this polarization through forced integration. Within the final decision packet, plans were highlighted to; eliminate off-campus housing and renovate the chapter houses into student housing; require meal plans; construct a new centralized social and event space between the halves of campus to foster more community-based events; and promote the social integration between all social groups on campus.

When announced to the student body, this decision was framed through the lens of fostering diverse thinking and social integration within the student body, between students and faculty, and specifically in regards to the social events atmosphere in daily life. Students, alumni, and organization chapter leaders alike were upset by this decision, and a large portion of this collection documents their correspondences between on-campus and off-campus bureaucratic bodies at the time; including but not limited to President Eugene Tobin and Chairman of the Board Kevin Kennedy.


.8 Linear Feet (2 half size archives boxes)

Language of Materials



The records are organized in alphabetical order by subject and chronological order within each folder.

Related Materials

Various residential life surveys and reports are available in the Hamilton College Archives as well as a recording of the announcement of the decision to the student body on March 4, 1995.

Hannah Budner '23 and Emma Kerkman '25
Spring 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Hamilton College Archives Repository

198 College Hill Road
Clinton NY United States