Living in dorms brings a sense of community and location you can’t find anywhere else
As an incoming first year, choosing a place to live was a non-issue, as all first years are required to live on Grounds. I’m not complaining about my lack of control, though. I am currently writing this article from my bedroom in the lovely Watson-Webb, and I couldn’t be happier. Well, you may remark, of course you’re happy! You’re in the New Dorms complex, which means you’ve got the blessings of air-conditioning, elevators, drywall and carpet! Stop rubbing our noses in it, geesh! Not all dorms are so well-accommodated.
That may be true; I did feel lucky for the first two weeks of school when I could open the door to my room and feel the relief of a cool blast of air. For those days when it’s blistering hot and all you want is to stop feeling disgusting, New Dorms offer a slight advantage. After that, however, I’d argue that it doesn’t matter where you live on Grounds, as long as you are on Grounds.
As I’ve already said, I’m a first year, so living on Grounds wasn’t a choice for me. But the decision to stay on Grounds is one I will actively make for the upcoming year. Although it may seem like this is just my first year over-enthusiasm talking, I have truly loved every aspect of my on-Grounds living experience. Before I arrived, a term that I encountered over and over again within the literature about first year was “common living experience.” Indeed, it’s a unique experience. The fact that all first years live in exclusively first-year dorms has greatly facilitated socialization. In the dorms, you’ll always have friends — people with whom you are sharing classes, stresses, and explorations — right down the hall. The lounges are constant hubs of activity, whether that means a communal viewing of the latest episode of “Parenthood,” a giant study session or a viciously competitive game of Scattergories. There is no need to “plan” activities, and it’s not an effort to see your peers regularly — events tend to just materialize at convenient times.
You see each other in the kitchen, in the hallway, in the bathroom, walking to and from the building, at the nearest dining hall. Although you may have some friends in off-Grounds housing, you will never feel as integrated into your own class or the school community as a whole as you do on Grounds.
All the dorms have their own perks in terms of location, although I can’t even count how many times I’ve groaned to my roommate, “Alderman is so far!” Being on-Grounds constantly means that I am especially tuned in to school events, because I see the posters and the chalking every time I step outside my building. Off-Grounds dorms may have their benefits. But living on Grounds is relatively affordable and involves a nine-month contract instead of the inconvenient year-long rental you’ll find elsewhere. It also offers invaluable bonding opportunities, and hey, you don’t have to clean your own bathroom. From where I’m sitting, there’s no place I’d rather be.
Ashley Spinks is a Viewpoint Writer for The Cavalier Daily.