Where’s the Gold?: It’s time to own up to dorm life

Commentary Opinion

Let’s be real for a minute. They’ll called dorms.

When I look back on my four years of college, nothing amuses me more than the attempt to re-label the buildings I lived in as “residence halls.” There is nothing residential about them.

Let’s ignore the fact that you can’t have pets. Let’s also remove that drinking isn’t allowed in our rooms and let’s also ignore that Logan (the building I live in) has a non-smoking policy, even on our balconies, on the books.

What makes the term “residence halls” so ludicrous is that it makes Juda, Logan, Bashears, Vaseloakos, Leaverton, Scanlon and Griffon Hall sound fancy, as if when you move in, people will be greeting you with a smile, a warm towel and—if you live in Griffon Hall—a full set of kitchenware. None of this is true.

The dorms, as everyone else in reality likes to call them, are the places you have to live in. The only reason anyone lives on campus is for the convenience of not having to pay rent and bills. Maybe they also like being close to their classes. Every student I have ever known with the financial ability to move off campus, does so. And they do it fast.

What makes these places so horrible? Well, they aren’t horrible. I’m not going to complain about my 8×10 foot room while I know there will be several people living in St. Joseph’s downtown parking garages this summer. But what I will complain about it is the need for some people in residential life to pretend that living in the “residence halls” is a glamorous life.

There is nothing glamorous about sharing a toilet and shower with three other men. There is nothing wonderful about moldy heating and AC units. There is nothing magical about door locks that break every time it rains. This is dorm life.

During my freshmen year, a Resident Assistant—using an extremely snooty voice—corrected me when I called Scanlon a dorm. I was on the phone with one of my friends from high school and the RA, who was eavesdropping on my conversation, yelled as I walked by, “You live in a residence hall, not a dorm!”

The fact that you lock the front door of the building, each wing of the building, and tell me that I can’t have a toaster does not make this a place of residency. The dorms are a few steps above a prison and several steps down from a $10-a-night motel.

More than anything, living in the dorms is a nuisance. It seems that every time I’m doing something important, RAs have to stop by to put “door deck” on our doors. For those of you who don’t live in campus housing, these are tiny pieces of paper they place on our doors with our name and some glitter or other fifth grade left over art supplies. To be honest, I’d much rather prefer our G-numbers be placed on our doors so we can stop pretending that residential life actually cares.

If you’re still in your early years of living on campus, I figure you have two choices. Either move off campus or move to the suites. Logan, Juda and Beshears have the most privacy and most space per student. Yeah, all your locks might break at once or your bathroom light might go out and mold starts to move in within 24 hours, but at least it’s less like prison. Since living in Juda, no one has checked my ID as I walk into my dorm and no one really cares what we do.

As long as we play nice with our neighbors, everything is copacetic.

Doesn’t that sound like the real world?

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