Because the Santa Clara University web sentinels won’t let me on the wireless network, this is the first time I’ve been able to post since my stay on campus. I wrote this last night, my second night in the dorms. I had a full day of classes today and have talked with around nine of my former professors. Lots to write about tomorrow and more photos of the dorms and campus to come.
I just had an authentic experience of dorm life that made me miss it. I arrived back at my room at around 9:30 pm, and my floor was filled with the white noise of the dorms: voices echoing down the hallways, canned laughter from TVs, doors opening and closing. I heard a group of students chatting about me, the mysterious visitor, so I decided to emerge from my executive suite and join them.
(Aside: My suite is fit for a king. The regular rooms in McLaughlin aren’t nearly this nice; they have twin beds, closets, desks, and a sink, built-in shelves, and that’s about it. My new pad is a one-bedroom apartment normally for scholars in residence, e.g. visiting professors. It’s fully furnished with a couch, desk and coffee table, big-screen TV, fridge and microwave, queen-sized bed, and private bathroom and shower. Every time I walk in, I can’t believe I never knew that these luxury accommodations existed in my dorm. I’m sure it’s an intentional secret so the residents don’t mutiny.)
The students were standing in a circle in the doorway of a boys’ room, and they went around introducing themselves. I’ll call them Jorge, Nico, Alicia, Mimi, and Victoria. Victoria is the Community Facilitator, nouveau-SCU-speak for R.A. Most of the dorms are now Resident Learning Communities, and McLaughlin has become a second branch of Unity House, whose theme is Diversity and Civic Engagement. The dorm holds regular activities and events that fit its theme. Since SCU’s student body had been very white in my day, I’d been impressed and surprised by the racial diversity of the students on my floor. The students estimated that SCU is still around 12% African American, 12% Latino, and 5% Asian. According to the school website’s profile for the class of 2011, the students were right about the Latino demographic (13%), but they’d switched the African American (5%) and Asian demographics (17%). The freshman class is 52% White and 14% Multicultural/Other.
We stood around chatting for an hour or so as if we had all the time in the world. Everyone in the group talked openly to me about their boyfriends, hometowns, and majors. Other students began drifting in and out of the circle, stopping to give hugs or relate a quick story. Students wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers walked past us to the shared bathroom. McLaughlin’s three floors are now all co-ed, not gender-specific as before, with male and female rooms next to each other. The bathrooms are still single-sex, so if the floor has a girls’ bathroom, the guys have to go to another floor for theirs. Victoria says that parents tend to flip out a little when they see that their babies will be cohabiting with the opposite sex, but the students prefer the arrangement.
Alicia and Mimi decided that they were going to grab a bite at The Bronco, the late-night pub hangout that opened the year I graduated. I walked over with them, passing a boy in the hall entertaining his friends by leaping around in a girl’s snug pair of capri jeans. Later, at the Bronco, the girls and I shared greasy quesadillas and cheese fries that are still sitting in my stomach two hours later (Freshman Fifteen, here I come!). Alicia even used her extra dining points to treat me, granting my moochy wish from my last post.
My senior year of college, someone pointed out to me that never again would I live in a place with just people my age — and a lot of them. I miss the sense of community and constant activity that characterizes a small dorm, and I feel even more committed to cohousing one day.
Everything happens later here. A couple of the boys mentioned that they stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. every day. It’s after midnight now, and a guy just ran down the hall shouting something unintelligible. Male voices rise and fall from a nearby room, where I saw three boys sprawled out on the extra long twin beds typing on their laptops. An influx of people just burst into the hallway, chattering and giggling and shushing each other. I thought it was to honor quiet hours (11 p.m.-10 a.m.), but they were actually sneaking up on someone to cheer and sing “Happy Birthday.” As I write, muffled female laughter and exclamations are coming from behind the door across from mine, and the smell of popcorn is wafting into my room.
I love dorm life. Someone’s door is always open, and you never know what’s going to happen next.
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What are your favorite memories of dorm life?