COLLEGE LIFE: Housing Part 3: Letters

The following post contains heavy sarcasm throughout.  Reader discretion is advised.

Dear 2011-2012 residents of North Mid Quads,

Well, we’ve spent a year together.  It’s been quite eventful, I must say.  Before we part, let me share a few thoughts with you.

I congratulate you on your insight in interpreting the hall regulations regarding Quiet Hours as the loose suggestions they no doubt were intended as.  Obviously, no reasonable residence hall would expect students to abstain from shouting after midnight.  I’m glad that the Community Assistants also recognized this, and didn’t tell you to quiet down at all.  Additionally, I imagine that the school rules and Evanston laws forbidding microwaves and water heaters in the dorm rooms were written as avant garde poetry, and were not meant to be obeyed.

On that note, I would like to applaud your courage in utterly disregarding university policies regarding controlled substances and smoking inside the residence halls.   Clearly, the Student Handbook’s explicit prohibition against the “Use, misuse, or possession of illegal drugs and controlled substances,” defined as  “marijuana, narcotics, cocaine, heroin, and prescription medication,” was written as a joke.  Likewise the rules against smoking indoors.  Personally, I don’t know what I would do with myself if I were to step into the hallway and not be immediately overpowered by the smell of marijuana, and I know that no rational person could possibly expect any of you to smoke your weed in the open air, or even in a friend’s apartment building, where the smell could be enjoyed only by those who had intentionally participated in the experience.  How generous of you to share your scent with me.

Regarding Dillo Day, I can write only of what I saw after the fact, as I had vacated the premises during the event itself.  That said, I am impressed with the foresight of my dormmates.  How ingenious of you all to coat the entire staircase, from the first floor up to the fourth, in spilled beer and other drinks, so that it would become incredibly sticky.  I’m sure you were acting out of concern for drunk residents, hoping that the improvised adhesive would prevent them from slipping on their way back to their rooms.  As for the fate of the sink, I very much appreciated what I assume was an exhibition of modern art indicting the excesses of college binge drinking.  I can’t think of any other reason someone might vomit in a sink and then leave it until the cleaning staff finally returns after the long weekend.

As for the washing machines in the laundry room, let us take a moment of reverent silence to honor the visionary student or students who pulled the handles and faceplates off of the detergent trays.  The aesthetics of the entire room were drastically improved by the presence of damaged washing machine parts sitting atop said machines, and I relished the weekly sensation of sticky, day old detergent leaking from the uncovered tray onto my hand.

I’m sure that I will miss you all next year, when I am living in an apartment.  I fear that I might never again be suffocated by a haze of noisome smoke, or be awoken by a visibly high man, wearing only his underwear, pounding on my door at five in the morning.  Sometimes I lie awake at night, worrying about how dull my life is going to be in the coming years when I return home and don’t find spilled alcohol on my stairs or vomit in my sink.  Who will dismantle my appliances next year, or leave garbage lying around my home?  It just won’t be the same without you.

Ever your humble servant,


Dear Department of Undergraduate Housing,

I am writing to thank you for the services you have provided me over the past two years.   Coming to college, fresh out of high school, I will never forget how crucial your services were in my survival on campus.

First and foremost, you provided me housing.  In my first year, it was a cinderblock cube in Bobb Hall, and this year it was a cinderblock cube in North Mid Quads, but with plaster.  I think that these rooms were excellent ways to spend $7076 and $8752, respectively.  Bobb Hall, especially, was an excellent value in that I saved something like $1500 by having a roommate, rather than paying half of what a single occupancy room costs.  There are no university housing options that afford me my own washroom, so I have no point of comparison, but I’m sure you saved me money by making me share a washroom with dozens of people.

I am quite taken with the security system you have.  I feel very safe when I need to swipe my key at three doors before I even arrive at my room, regardless of what I might be carrying.  Nothing comforts me like stopping multiple times to set down heavy boxes, unlock a door, open it, and then quickly pick up my boxes and hurry through before the door shuts again.  The system you have in NMQ is especially impressive, as I never would have thought of engineering doors that can only lock from the inside, which will always open from the inside regardless of whether or not they’re locked, and then lock behind me as I leave when they close.  When I’m locked out of my own room after a thirty second trip to the washroom, I feel very secure.  Admittedly, this can get a little inconvenient, since there’s no obvious indication of whether a door is locked or not when I leave, but you did a great job of addressing that problem.  For a small fee of $10, I can go down to the room of one of the Community Assistants and ask them to unlock my door for me.  I just have to take care to only be locked out in the late afternoon and early evening, when the CAs are in the building.

Also, thank you so much for feeding me at the dining halls.  Who would have thought that, for a mere $5181, I could have thirteen meals a week for the course of the academic year, and in such magnificent facilities?  It has been a distinct pleasure to stand in a disorganized crowd of people by a counter, waiting for an NUCuisine employee to ask whether I’d like a chicken breast or a hamburger, and then going off to try and find a seat.

I’m not at all bothered that half the dining halls are closed on weekends, and that I can only live in the dorms while school is in session.  That means that I get to move at least twice a year, and my family only lives a few miles away.  Imagine how much fun it must be for students who come from the west coast to move back and forth during the summer!  I’m sure that my parents love that they need to keep that extra bedroom handy for the approximately four months out of the year that the dorms are closed and I need to live with them.  There’s probably nothing they wanted to do with that space, anyway.

Sure, there are studio apartments in Evanston, with their own bathrooms and kitchens, that are cheaper than my room here in the North Mid Quads, even setting aside that there are four months out of the year when I can’t live here.  Sure, the pairs of people living in doubles on campus could rent two bedroom apartments in Evanston for less than they pay for their dorm rooms, adjusting for winter, spring, and summer breaks.  But really, what would I do with my own kitchen and bathroom, and why would I want to have someplace to live year round?

Yes, the dining halls charge the equivalent of $14 a day for food, or $20 or more when you consider that they only operate when the dorms do, and yes, some of them are closed on weekends, in the afternoons, and in the late evening.  Sure, the soda machines malfunction a lot, and supplies run out frequently.  Who wants to have $14 a day to spend on whatever food they want, though, or to eat whenever’s convenient for them?  I’ll take a cafeteria for the price of a restaurant any day!

Undergraduate Housing, I’ll miss you next year, as I sit in my apartment.  When I take a shower in the privacy of a bathroom that I help to keep tidy, I’ll remember the way my fellow students trashed the shared bathrooms of the dorms.  A little pang of nostalgia will pierce my heart as I think of how I used to have the privilege of eating hastily cooked fries, pasta, and chicken, and how now I’m left only with the choice of cooking for myself or eating at a restaurant.  I will sigh when I step out of my room into the hallway and realize that my immediate neighbor is someone I have chosen to share living quarters with, and is not some alcoholic who was randomly assigned to the room next to mine.  Tears will fill my eyes, no doubt, when winter break comes and I am not shooed out of the building to putter around my parents’ house for a month.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why I didn’t sign up for a dorm for next year.

Ever your humble servant,


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