As the fall semester starts, there are nearly 300 new Freshmen walking across campus, embarking on the first year of their Hampden-Sydney journey. For many of us, that first year was filled with some air of complaints about the freshman dorms. Whether it be the shower heads in Whitehouse that are nearly as tall as one’s chest, or the lack luster paint job in the Carpenters, somebody somewhere was expressing their boldest dislike about dorm life as a Freshman.
With our memories of freshman dorm living held fondly, we have a new extension to build on those memories. This year, we are fortunate to have new student lounges. Last semester with the help of Dean Lawson, Dean of Student Living at the time, and the student body, a plan to increase the lifestyle of Freshman living was implement, and resulted in these lavish new lounges.
Decorated with fresh new leather couches, chairs, Hampden-Sydney memorabilia, and flat screen televisions, the new dorms are something unusual to those of us who remember the old dorm Freshman dorm life.
Curious, I spoke with multiple Freshman about their experience arriving on the Hill. With expectations of the usual banter prevalent on Hampden-Sydney’s campus towards Freshman living, I heard something quite different. I heard stories of joy, embrace, and camaraderie.
As it were, each student from Whitehouse that I spoke with was content. They had stories of jubilation, jokes, and gratification of the community they felt in their Freshman dorms. Whether it was the first two weeks of freedom speaking, we shall see. But for now, the remarks hold strong with comments from 1st year Will Smith: “Community life is awesome.” Other 1st year Jake Richardson expressed his content with the open community: “You can walk around anywhere in Whitehouse and be welcomed in other rooms.” “Everyone sits outside and talks on the weekends,” stated Thomas Murphy.
Though there was much joy, there were the casual complaints of bathrooms not being clean in Whitehouse, washing clothes for the first time and the difficulties that mixing whites and darks create, and other comments regarding similar areas.
It’s not only Whitehouse that is getting high remarks. Shamus Magee, Cushing resident and Freshman, explained how the spacious rooms are superb compared to the smaller dorms of other colleges. Another nice benefit of Cushing, Magee added, was the fact that the building has air conditioning—a luxury some other colleges don’t have. Another big plus was that our Resident Advisors tend to be affable, a factor that does not always play nicely at other colleges.
With multiple students’ opinions heard, I thought it was time to here from an RA himself about the living situations and the usage of the new lounges. Rest assured, the lounges are being used in the capacity that the school expected: “My residents have been making the best out of the lounges in Carp X. It’s helped a lot having this extra space in the Carpenters, and is definitely giving the residents more reason to stay around,” assured Carpenter X Resident Advisor, Jack Carignan.
The West House lounge has also been a great addition: “They use it all the time in West House: meetings, hang outs, everything. The residents think it’s really nice,” explained Whitehouse Resident Advisor, Thomas Isom. The only frustration came from usage with the new keypads. Some people have difficulty accessing the room on the first try.
After visiting Buildings and Grounds and learning how to use the pads, I was informed that sometimes students do not push hard enough on the buttons, and that will result in the door locking them out; therefore, it is essential to press hard enough so that the device acknowledges your commands.
With these words of elation from our new brothers, and new expectations from our upper classmen towards campus lifestyle, the year has started off on a very strong foot. The many improvements toward Freshman living have been a success, and are paving a new wave of success to come for the future. As an upperclassmen, I am excited to see the new changes that will come in our time here, and in the time once we leave campus.