The Lemon Exchange Program: a chance for a great equalizer


Mollie Shiflett ’26 is an undecided major who will probably end up majoring in History. She plays on the Gold Women’s Club Soccer team for the College of William and Mary and is an avid fan of most sports — except golf. Email Mollie at

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

This is fairly well-covered territory, but I have a solution to the widespread resentment for the students that had the chance to be housed in Lemon Hall during their freshman year. This resentment is not because they’re better looking or that we’re really jealous of the extra amount of money they have to pay in housing costs. This resentment has to do with the fact that they get to live in one of the newest buildings on campus, with AC and hardwood floors, while the rest of us freshmen, by and large, exist in dorms that are far from those standards. What’s worse is, because Lemon is for freshmen, they don’t have previous experience to let them know how good they have it.

 It also may be hard for you to understand or believe that this is widespread, but here’s the deal. Freshmen that live in Lemon make up a small fraction of those that are in their first year, but their dorm is head and shoulders above all the other freshman dorms. It has AC, unlike Botetourt, the Green and Gold Village and Monroe (shoutout industrial hallway fans), its rooms are nicer than those in Randolph, it’s closer to most of campus than Willis and it’s just newer than Yates. Everyone who lives in any dorm has at least one reason to have a little bit of that green monster peek out when Lemon comes up in conversation. The solution to one of the greatest problems plaguing this campus is simple: implement the Lemon Exchange Program.

What is this program, you might ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like. I believe that for a period of at least a week, freshmen in Lemon Hall should switch places with a student living in another residence hall, such as the GGV. This may seem fairly impractical, but to be brutally honest, that’s not my problem; it would be Residence Life’s problem. 

Before I really get into this, let me preface one thing. I recognize that there are many residents who have been placed in Lemon because they need to be there for medical or other personal reasons. This suggestion is not aimed towards those that need to be there in any way, but towards those (looking at some kids from my high school) that got placed there for no reason other than luck. Whenever a person talks about resenting kids who lived in Lemon, these lucky people are the ones they’re talking about.

But to get back into it, this plan really serves no practical purpose besides eliminating the mystique on both ends. People who live in other residence halls seem to assume that Lemon is some magical place with no problems, and people in Lemon no doubt have only received a caricature of life in other residence halls.

Fundamentally, it is important for everyone to be appreciative of what they have, and I’m not exactly sure that Lemon residents are completely appreciative of what they have — they probably take it for granted, if anything.

Maybe, all they need is to sit in a room with no air conditioning and a possible ant infestation for a week. Or maybe that’s a bit of an oversimplification. Maybe there’s no point in all this, and we just want to continue resenting Lemon kids for what they have but don’t appreciate — which is totally fine; I can get behind that. But if we genuinely want to come to some unified community at the College of William and Mary, we all must become part of the most venerated tradition on campus: genuinely unpleasant freshmen dorms.

That’s the problem with Lemon. It’s not unpleasant. The shower heads don’t explode when you’re showering. The toilets don’t leave puddles on the stall floors. It doesn’t have cockroach killing escapades during orientation. And it doesn’t have ant traps laid out every 15 feet. Most would argue that’s a good thing, but I would argue that Lemon residents missed out on a critical part of character development. 

After all, their first apartment might end up being a hole in the wall, meaning they’re now missing out on the opportunity to prepare themselves for it. So you see, what I propose is actually a public service — a learning opportunity, if you will. Also, I’m not going to lie to you, I’d like a break from the ants, linoleum tile and cinder blocks, and I want a lounge where the AC works. 

So, we all get to see how the other half lives, and then we all get to go home. That sounds pretty good to me. And I will admit that after a week I’d probably start to miss my cinder blocks and tiny bathroom stalls (that could be the Stockholm Syndrome talking, I can’t know for sure), and Lemon kids would definitely miss their former surroundings, so we would all go back to normal a little bit better off for the experience. We’d all learn that there are things about our situations that we appreciate and prefer over the other. Maybe that would be location, AC (definitely AC) or general vibe.

But I’m getting sidetracked. The primary benefit of this program would undoubtedly be that Lemonites would finally be brought down to where the rest of us live — literally. Maybe that’s petty of me (it definitely is), but I think it’s important for all of us to have holistic perspectives. They will never fully appreciate what they have until they walk a mile in our shoes, or in this case spend a week in our dorm rooms.

And time is of the essence. There isn’t an exact equivalent to GGV or Botetourt in the sophomore dorms — as far as I’m aware — so we need to get a move on. Especially since GGV will be gone after next year, we should ensure they have the maximum amount of “character development” that is possible.

If nothing else, it will provide all of us mere mortals who don’t have the privilege of living in Lemon the chance for a little bit of Schadenfreude.


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