A new group of fourth-year students moved into the 54 historic rooms lining the Lawn in the heart of Grounds last weekend. Those living on the Lawn — widely known as “Lawnies” — take on the long-standing responsibility of helping cultivate its welcoming environment for all members of the University community.
Students living on the Lawn often take initiative to host events for organizations, along with leaving their doors open to interactions with friends, faculty or even families touring Grounds. Residents open their rooms to the wider community for events such as Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn and the annual Lighting of the Lawn in December.
Students who live on the Lawn go through a rigorous selection process consisting of an application with an essay, a list of extracurricular activities and the disclosure of the student’s cumulative and major GPA. Once an application is submitted, the decision is in the hands of a diverse Lawn Selection Committee, composed of 60 fourth-year students.
Fourth-year College student Daniel Bojo said completed a goal many years in the making when he moved into his Lawn room.
“I had heard about the Lawn probably in eighth grade,” Bojo said. “My civics teacher actually lived on the upper East side of the lawn, and he would always talk about it in our class. And then once I got to U.Va., I knew that it was a thing, and it was just an opportunity that you couldn’t really get at any other school.”
The uniquely tight-knit community among lawn residents begins even before moving in. Fourth-year Batten student Christian Taylor said the group already had a group chat as well as plans for bonding events including a retreat Thursday and a trip to Carter’s Mountain.
Rooms on the Lawn are some of the oldest buildings on Grounds, dating back to the University’s original construction in 1826. Lawn rooms were finally updated last year with air conditioning. But some aspects of the living situation, such as unattached, outdoor bathrooms, still present a challenge to residents.
“The walk to the bathroom hasn’t really settled for me yet,” Taylor said. “But when it gets colder, I’ll probably have a different answer for that.”
Fourth-year College Student Makana Brooks described her excitement for the social opportunities her new residence brings.
“I love meeting new people,” Brooks said. “What I think will be cool about living on the Lawn is that everybody’s there, so you can always say hi to anybody that passes by.”
To prepare for this full class of Lawn residents, Housing and Residence Life worked to prepare Lawn rooms throughout the summer. Rooms were occupied by conference guests during the summer, but Facilities Management takes care of any necessary maintenance — even the removal of an active beehive located in the attic of 33 West Lawn before student arrivals, according to Shylan Scott, associate dean of students and director of residence life.
For many lawn residents, this year represents the beginning of the end of their undergraduate careers.
“It’s bittersweet because it feels like a series finale, almost,” Taylor said. “At the same time, we’re all approaching our own spin-off.”
Brooks, however, noted the possibility of a reunion after the end of the year.
“In my brain, this will be a good community, one that I can count on for years to come,” Brooks said.