Southside has a bad reputation. Students who live there are constantly forced to defend it – “It’s not that far away,” they say, or “I love having a bathtub,” they claim. “A full-size fridge is better than a half-size fridge,” they surmise. And they persistently ask, “What’s so bad about Southside?”
In a word? Everything. Southside stinks. And let’s be honest, anyone who tries to claim otherwise is deluding himself. When’s the last time anyone took a bath, anyway? Of course, the principle reason Southside suffers is location. Residents have to get up 15 minutes earlier to make a morning class. They have to walk 15 extra minutes just to club a meal at the Pit (is it even worth it?), and they’re forced to hazily stumble an extra 15 minutes just to make it to the Frat Quad on a Saturday night – not to mention the 15-minute walk of shame the next morning, a daunting enough challenge to keep any Southside co-ed from fully enjoying her weekend.
Then there are the dingy apartment buildings that make Towers look like the Overlook Hotel, and the oft-broken elevators, causing residents to long for the days of working elevators.
Who am I to criticize this residency? Have I ever lived in Southside? No, no I haven’t. In fact, I’ve only been there once, and it was long enough ago that I don’t remember much about it. But that’s irrelevant – this judgment is based purely on the superficial, and Southside’s unsplendid isolation is reason enough to lead to the close-minded conclusion that its residents are ambushed with the worst that Residential Life has to offer. Why else is it the last resort for students on the short end of the housing lottery stick?
There’s a lot about ResLife that could use upgrading. Sure, no college campus provides perfect, idealized living situations, but that doesn’t rid a college of the necessary quest for self-improvement. So, as a graduating senior who has lived in several different on-campus dorms, here’s my advice on how on-campus housing can be improved for incoming freshmen over the next four years.
Remodel the bathrooms in Hill Court: The need for renovations in numerous dormitories is growing nearer, but nowhere more necessary than the restrooms in Phase. These miniscule bathrooms, meant for at least six people, are as cramped as a cheap European hostel in the morning. The “low-flow” showerheads pack all the water pressure punch of a feeble old woman, and shower patrons, in addition to being subject to the claustrophobic equivalent of a phone booth, are dangerously prone to unspeakable pranks from adjacent foot traffic, protected only by a meager, usually half-shredded curtain. Separation of shower from toilet is as essential as church from state, and architects should look to Towers bathrooms as a model for renovations.
Install built-in storage in Sue B.: Over the summer, Susan B. Anthony Halls were renovated and given new furniture to match that of the Residential Quad, and the built-in storage and larger desks that Sue B. residents previously enjoyed were abandoned. Bring them back. Do it this summer. The oversized desk space and in-wall dressers were always a bragging-point among residents, and we’re still wondering why they were nixed in favor of tiny desks and even tinier wardrobes. The previous storage and furniture enabled dressers to go under beds and created more floor space, making Sue B. the place to live for freshmen. The halls atop the hill would regain that elite status with the re-implementation of the built-ins.
Allow pets in dorms: Not only would this appease the requests of pet-lovers across UR, it would also, theoretically, boost the morale of the campus as a whole, replacing Prozac and booze as the preferred form of anti-depressants among students. Walking to class, surrounded by students and dogs alike, would become an experience of heightened exhilaration, the constant threat of a dog melee a mere angry bark away. A certain dorm could even be established for pet living, replacing Psi U as the campus Animal House. And the food from Danforth could finally be put to good use.
Clean up the vomit stains outside Phase: Balconies in student housing tend to have their downside, and that downside is when students decide to throw up off of them. But this improvement is pretty simple – scrub away the remains of stains on the steps of Kendrick and other Phase buildings, should they occur. Why should employees be forced to clean up after irresponsible students who can’t even find a toilet? They shouldn’t – another reason to allow pets on campus. Dogs will eat anything.
Overhaul the heating system: The heating system in River Campus dorms is dated, especially in Towers. You leave the heating off – it’s too cold. You turn the heat on – it’s too hot. You open the window – it’s too cold. Good luck getting into “the zone.” (Studies have shown that with the heater on low and the window open three inches, with an external temperature of 43 degrees, acceptable room temperature can be marginally attained. This is rare, though.) Some new heaters would help, and, while ResLife is at it, giving freshmen adjustable heating systems wouldn’t be frowned upon.
Achieving all of these campus-living enhancements would earn ResLife major PR points and, in conjunction with the new dormitory being built across the river in the 19th Ward, could catapult UR to one of the most desirable colleges to live at in Rochester. Here’s wishing ResLife luck on its newest housing endeavor and hopes that next year it won’t become even easier to get mugged right outside your dorm. One thing’s for sure – the new building will be better than Southside.
Fountaine is a member of the class of 2008.