Surviving Room Selection

Check back over spring break for updated housing reviews. To put in your own feedback about your current or past living arrangements, fill out our housing survey.

by Samantha Plotner

If only it was that easy…

Room selection is quickly approaching and, especially in the hurricane of midterm season, choosing where and who to live with is a complicated and sensitive process.

In nearly four years of dorm living, I’ve learned one universal truth: just because you’re friends with someone, doesn’t mean you’ll live well together. Your experience as roommates or suitemates can also vastly depend on where you live. Here’s some advice from a graduating senior and some things to think about while you’re figuring out housing:

Different buildings have different requirements. In suites (600s, Plimpton, 110, CG) you will be responsible for your room, the bathroom, the kitchen, and any other common areas. In hall-style buildings (Hewitt, Elliott, Sulz Tower) the bathrooms and kitchens are cleaned by facilities. Don’t underestimate the conflict that can be caused by not being on the same page about cleaning with your roommate or suitemates. Make sure you’re rooming with people who are on (or around) your level of cleanliness.

Wall thickness varies around campus, so certain buildings are louder than others (hello, Hewitt and Plimpton!). For shared space in a room or suite, talk about noise expectations. Will everyone be quiet in common spaces after a certain time? What about in a shared bedroom? Headphones and use of common lounges could end up being crucial if you’re living with suitemates keep different hours. Additionally, if you value quiet get on a higher floor (it keeps you away from street noise).

Do you want suite common space for socializing? A dishwasher? A TV on your floor? A close walk to campus? Have an open conversation among your potential suitemates about what you all want. Know what your non-negotiable things are (like if you want your own room), but be reasonable. Accept that you and your friends may want different things. If you’re yearning for the dishwasher and apartment style of CG, but your friends want the campus location of Sulz Tower don’t be afraid to split your group. It’s better for everyone to aim for their non-negotiable things than be miserable in a space they really didn’t want. Holding your group hostage to your singular demands isn’t fair.

Next year, all Plimpton suites will have a double

Look Before You Pick
Floor plans can lie to you and it can be hard to get a sense of a building without seeing it in person. Talk to a friend who lives there or go look around. It also particularly helps if looking at the “Burbs” buildings (Plimpton, 110, CG). Going to the building gives you a true sense of their distance from campus. You can also see our building reviews!

Have a Backup Plan (or two)
In a perfect world everyone would get exactly what they wanted, but as housing shifts, (especially with Plimpton suites now all containing one double) finding the exactly situation you want–especially a suite with all singles–particularly will be difficult. What if there’s a five person suite available but six people in your group? Who is willing to live in a double? You can’t plan for every contingency but having these conversations will help you deal with needing to make an on the spot judgement call. These conversations are essential if you’re using a proxy. Make sure that person is 110% sure about what you want.

Samantha is a senior at Barnard and Co-Founder and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing. She is an RA in Plimpton Hall.

Images courtesy of Barnard ResLife.


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