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VIDEO: Pembroke celebrates centennial year as dorm, community center

– Video by Annalise Kraus

Pembroke Hall’s community atmosphere is constant, yet not exactly typical.

Like every morning at 11:30 a.m., when a group of freshmen gather around the lobby’s television to watch “Jeopardy!”.

Or at every women’s volleyball game at the Curb Event Center, when dozens of self-proclaimed “Pembros” dress up, paint their chests and cheer for the home team.

Or when droves of women crowd around the hall every year to bid on a date with their favorite freshman.

And this year, the residents of the freshman hall have a reason to celebrate their tight-knit community of Pembrosity. Pembroke is turning 100 years old.

“I think Pembroke represents a place where young men can come and understand themselves, learn more about what they’re good at and what their gifts are and use that to the benefit of their community, in this case, the Pembroke community,” Anthony Donovan, director of residence life, said.

Pembroke is Belmont’s fourth oldest building on campus and housed its first residents in 1913. Now, it’s home to 128 freshmen and has a perpetual reputation for being more like a brotherhood than a residence hall. “For me, there’s a great sense of pride in seeing other young men mentor other young men because I think that’s something that’s really in deficit in the world right now,” Donovan said.

Traditions and programs like the hall’s annual date auction, haunted house and longstanding support of the women’s volleyball team show its residents want to fuse their dorm with the greater Belmont community, said assistant director of residence life Jamie Shaffer.

“They want to show off Pembroke, and they what others to identify with the sense of pride they feel,” she said.

In fact, Residence Life calls their annual haunted house event a “signature event” exclusive to the hall. It’s almost entirely run by Pembroke residents and consistently draws crowds each year.

“They’re like 18-year-old guys are, they’re willing to put themselves on the line for this girl that they love,” Donovan said. “Well, in this case, the girl that they love is Pembroke Hall, and they’re willing to put themselves on the line to make sure that their events go off.”

With more new dorms being built with even more amenities, it might seem like Belmont’s historic Heron, Hail and Pembroke halls wouldn’t attract incoming students. But both Donovan and Shaffer said students often request these dorms because of their vibrant communities.

“I think those buildings have real heart, and I think those buildings help us appreciate what Belmont was,” Shaffer said. “I think having those three buildings allow us to move forward and build buildings like Patton, Bear House and Dickens, while not feeling like we’re completely losing who we are.”

For Donovan, Pembroke reflects what Belmont hopes to offer academically and socially to all its students.

“I think Pembroke represents to Belmont the kind of experience they want students to have when they live on campus, and, frankly, the kind of experience they want them to have from college – one that’s engaging them, that’s not passive, that you can’t just be an observer of.”

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