By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
One of the best parts about the college experience is the new ability to live by yourself for the first time.
You no longer have parents to give you a curfew, you don’t have little siblings stealing your things and embarrassing you. But whether or not you enjoy your living experience depends on a few things.
Your roommates, your social life, and the dorms themselves all impact how much you enjoy yourself in this new atmosphere. I have no idea who your friends are, but there is one thing I know we can all judge alike: on-campus housing as a whole.
A lot of students have strong opinions about UMass Dartmouth’s living conditions. I know many who complain about the overall aesthetic of the buildings, first-year housing in particular.
The white cement walls and cold vacant hallways of the first-year buildings are one of the many reasons the classic “UMass Dartmouth was supposed to be a prison” rumor still spreads at the start of each year.
The sophomore buildings look a lot nicer and sport carpeted floors, so they’re a step up from first-year housing. The Woodlands (apartment buildings) look basic on the outside, but they’re actually quite clean and are excellent living spaces.
As for the dorms themselves, the first-year rooms aren’t what anyone would call luxurious.
Doubles are white rooms with little per-sonality, and singles are basically walk-in closets with a bed.
One thing that always bugged me was that in Maple Ridge, the common rooms weren’t common rooms at all. They’re just empty triples with a couple of tables and chairs. If each floor could host a specialized area with a TV and couches, similar to the ones in Oak Glen, the first-years would love it.
Oak Glen and Pine Dale have nicer buildings, but the dorms aren’t much better than those in the Freshman Quad. One thing that does set them apart is controlled air conditioning and heating, since first-year buildings have no air conditioning whatsoever.
Currently, I live in the apartments and they’re definitely a league above the dorm buildings across campus. In an apartment, everyone gets their own room, as well as a kitchen and living room area.
Another perk to apartment life is living a lot closer to the academic buildings, so my advice to first-year students would be to do your best to worm your way into the apartments for sophomore year.
The battle to get in is tough, but you could be one of the lucky dozens to get in.
The maintenance staff is an integral part to keeping the living quarters under wraps as far as appearance goes. However, most students would argue they should be doing a better job.
The bathrooms in particular often fall victim to neglect. Occasionally, the trash doesn’t get emptied, so paper towels pile up until they take up floor space.
Last year, one of the showers in our suite bathroom got clogged with hair. Keep in mind this was a men’s bathroom, so a Rapunzel-like head of hair was not to blame.
I also knew a resident who said her suite’s shower had a fist-size hole in the wall, which wasn’t patched up.
Now, as much as I’ve ragged on about the UMass Dartmouth housing situation, I’ll admit it has many good features.
Sonos, the eatery in Maple Ridge, is a tasty and convenient place to eat, as well as Birch Grill on the other side of campus.
Chestnut and Elmwood both have cool common areas with pianos, and Oak Glen is about to unveil a new game room like the one in the Campus Center.
Customizable heat and air conditioning is also a plus for those living in the sophomore dorms and apartments. It comes in handy during the freezing parts of the winter, and the hot days that bookend the school year.
Overall, UMass Dartmouth housing isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it could definitely be improved. What we can fix right now is getting the staff to put their work in, and making sure the bathrooms get consistently cleaned—something as basic as that will improve the lives of many residents living on campus.
In the future, maybe UMass Dartmouth could construct new, state-of-the-art first-year dorm buildings. Chestnut and Roberts look like Flint, Michigan compared to the apartments.
Right now, the best case scenario for a new student would be to live in Maple Ridge their first year and make it to the apartments for their next three. Try to make it work!