Musings of a Dillard Dweller

I love spring break. If you’re lucky enough to head a few hundred miles south, warm weather offers an interruption from Charlottesville’s blustery, wintry doldrums. No strenuous class work hovers at the back of your mind as you sleep peacefully in bed. And as glad as you were to leave the abundant crises of high school behind, seeing your old friends invariably ensures a good time. But the best part of my spring break was finally getting to take a hot shower.

Fear not, my fellow classmates; I do indeed shower at college. Showering, in fact, is one of my favorite pastimes — hot water just clears your head. And my parents can attest to my propensity for 30-minute showers. But the past six months living in Gooch-Dillard have robbed me of this simple pleasure.

My suite’s shower likes to fluctuate between frigid and lukewarm, tempting my suitemates and I occasionally with a five-second glimpse into Dante’s inferno before settling back into tepidity. And don’t even consider entering that godforsaken hole without a pair of flip-flops.

I must woefully admit that I did not heed the words of my RA that first night, and decided, strong independent woman that I was, to brave the shower barefoot. I soon learned no amount of soap and disinfectant can remove the thin layer of mucus seeping from the shower’s concrete floors. Showering in my cramped Dillard shower feels like bathing in a bowl of chicken noodle soup left out all day: slimy and decidedly unwelcome.

Also, sometimes little black bits from the vent overhead will fall into your hair or onto the shower floor. The first time this happened, I thought roaches were falling from the ceiling, so I flung myself toward the stall door to escape the insect apocalypse, only to slip on the gunk plastered to the floor. Needless to say, this was not a highlight of my first month at dear ol’ U.Va. Wahoowa?

The showers aren’t the only missteps of Dillard’s design. Take the fact that every suite has two floors. Don’t get me wrong; in many ways I’m a huge fan of this layout. It makes our suite seem like an actual apartment, and it separates private study quarters from the common area. And coming from a one-floor home, I was initially hyped to finally have stairs in my abode. Stairs are swanky.

But stairs, I discovered, are most definitely not swanky when you have to pee at four in the morning and must teeter precariously down them, bleary-eyed and foggy-minded, to reach the bathroom below.

Then there’s the fire alarm system. It may not even be the system itself — I’m sure a few false alarms can be attributed to some of my peers’ secret fondness for pulling alarms in the middle of the night. But whatever — or whoever — the cause, the fire alarm has already awoken us Gooch-Dillard residents at 2 a.m. and again left us standing in the snowy cold for 40 minutes.

To be completely honest, I love living in Dillard. I really do. I love having my own room. I love having a private common area. I love that I have five suitemates instead of one roommate. Dillard is a fantastic dormitory. I would wholeheartedly encourage any future Cavalier to pick Dillard as their priority dorm. Just make sure you buy some shower shoes.

Laura’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at

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