Though dormitory life may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, I for one can hardly wait to return to East Quad in September. I’ve missed the sense of community — the vibrant atmosphere in which I lived, studied and occasionally got into trouble. And I’ve missed all the wonderfully bizarre residents of the dorm dubbed “Odd Quad” by those too normal to understand it.
But while living in the residence halls was fortunately a terrific experience for me last year, I nevertheless saw a few areas that needed a little work. I’d like to take this last column of the summer to proffer my own humble advice to University Housing for consideration as we enter the fall term.
For starters, let’s talk about the lighting in the halls. I sense there’s little we can do about the fact that it’s harsh on the eyes and makes everyone look a little sickly. But have you ever thought about the fact that those lights are on all the time? Imagine the amount of energy — and money — wasted by keeping them on unnecessarily 24 hours a day. A smart alternative would be to install the sort of motion sensors they have in some European hotels that activate for the short time necessary for people to walk through.
If that technology is too expensive, a cheaper method might be to just turn off some of the lights during low-traffic hours. Perhaps cut down a third or a half of the lights between the hours of, say, 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. There were times this past year when some of the lights in my hall bathroom went out, leaving only half the lights on. Not only was the room still sufficiently lit then, but the decreased brightness of the lights didn’t give me a headache.
And while we’re on the topic of dorm bathrooms, I might as well air the grievance of anyone who has ever used one — the wretchedly coarse toilet paper. It would be great if I were looking to sand a creative etching into the stall door, but for its intended purposes, it’s simply torture. I recognize that it’s cheaper and probably better for the environment than Charmin Ultra, but it’s unjust to torment our tushies so. If we had 2- or 3-ply toilet paper, average test scores would probably increase because we’d be so much more content sitting for an hour or two. Just give it a ply!
On a separate note, I still can’t figure out why Dining Dollars and Blue Bucks are separate currencies. Maybe it’s for intricate economic reasons that I’m too ignorant to understand, but if that’s the case, the least University Housing could do is provide a reason on their website. It seems silly, though, that the system should be so complex that it includes two different types of fake money primarily used to pay for junk food.
But whether they’re one currency or two, the thriftiest time to use them is each Saturday evening, when the dining halls have already closed in the early afternoon. I always hate going out and paying out of pocket for dinner when I’m so used to just having it provided. Sure, I understand the importance of giving cafeteria staff some time off, but there has to be a way to do so without bilking students out of their otherwise nightly meals on Saturdays. Even if only one dining hall remained open for dinner on Saturdays, it would mean a world of difference to students for whom eating out is a luxury, or at least an unnecessary expenditure. It may mean some sort of increase in the price of meal plans, but it’s a reasonable, inclusive idea that University Housing should consider.
For all the lip service it pays to its “activist culture,” the University remains largely impervious to most of my constructive criticism. This disappoints me greatly. I still can’t figure out why no one ever responded to my e-mail to the University librarians about maybe doing karaoke every other Tuesday in the UGLi. But, to be honest, I’d still be content with my overall housing experience even if nothing changed at all. Except the toilet paper, that is. It really has to go.
Matthew Green can be reached at email@example.com.