Southside, formerly and colloquially known as the Graduate Living Center, consists of Valentine and deKiewiet Towers, as well as several “maisonettes,” which offer apartment-style living to upperclassmen. It is located across the street from Strong Hospital, approximately a 13-minute walk from the center of campus.

When I’m asked where I’m living this year and I reply, “Southside,” I’m frequently met with responses such as, “Oh, I’m so sorry” or “That’s awful.”

But I ask, aside from a slightly inconveniencing walk, what is so bad about Southside?

Valentine and deKiewiet Towers have double- or triple-sized suites. The suites come equipped with a full bathroom (full-sized shower with a tub), a good-sized kitchen that includes a full-sized refrigerator and freezer, stove, oven, sink with a garbage disposal, multiple cabinets and a kitchen table. Each person living in Southside has his or her own bedroom, which is very spacious and well equipped. There is only one RA for every two floors, and the Southside Market is located in the basement of the deKiewiet Tower.

Well, let’s see, what are the other places available to live? For sophomores, juniors and seniors who choose to live on campus and not on the Fraternity Quad, the options are as follows: Hill Court, Towers, or the Residential Quad.

Hill Court is upper-class housing consisting of Chambers, Fairchild, Gale, Kendrick, Munro and Slater Houses, which are connected by underground tunnels. This residence area is known as “Phase” and is the newest residential area on the River Campus. Phase suites are very similar to the suites in Southside and are very comfortable, because they have a common room, which Southside lacks; however, the size of the kitchens, in comparison to Southside’s, is much smaller and much more inconvenient. In addition, Phase residents also have a walk to get onto campus, and the walk to Hutchinson Hall, a very popular academic building, from Phase is longer than the walk it takes Southsiders to get there.

The Anderson and Wilder Towers have many floors dedicated to certain kinds of living – for example, greek floors – but also room for those who are not involved in those groups on campus. These rooms have lots of storage space, but many are doubles, which is a downside.

The Residence Quad offers singles, doubles or triples, which I would agree are all very nice living choices. Their number one appeal: you can roll out of bed and be at class in a matter of minutes. However, there are joint lounges and kitchen areas, as well as communal bathrooms.

When Southside is compared to all the choices of where to live, I would have to say it’s one of my top choices. There, you won’t have frequent 3 a.m. fire drills to respond to, won’t hear drunk classmates meandering back from the frats in the early mornings on weekends, won’t have to go to the bathroom directly next to some stranger, won’t have to wear shoes in the shower and, best of all, you live on your own.

All the housing options have their own appeal, but none offer a realistic apartment-like living situation that forces you to live like you were actually on your own. You have a “commute” to class, need to remember to clean the bedrooms and bathroom, do the dishes in the sink, wash your laundry, go grocery shopping for food and buy supplies for your apartment. You don’t need to live in the “campus bubble” that provides you with almost everything you need and leaves little room for independence. Instead of reading, doing homework, getting dressed, cooking, eating, watching TV and hanging out with friends all in one rectangular-shaped room, you can sit at the dinner table for meals, talk in another friend’s room, even watch TV in the kitchen if you really want to. Southside leaves room for more opportunities to live a “real” life than any other living space does.

I’m not saying Southside is absolutely the best possible place to live, because everyone’s preferences are different, but I am saying that it’s not so bad.

So next time someone tells you he or she lives in Southside, you might want to change your response to something like, “That’s pretty sweet? can I come over for a meal sometime?”

Knapp is a member of the class of 2010.

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