Living in a college residence hall is a crazy concept when you really think about it. We live in close quarters and are surrounded by strangers all the time, all trying to live on their own while existing together. That's the life that most of us experience at Western Washington University, at least for a short period of time.
We certainly have our fair share of residence hall rumors spreading every quarter, and I want to know what the residents and RAs at Western have to say about living there. What tips do they recommend? What tricks do they use to make residence hall living more tolerable?
The bigger question: north campus or south campus? Which is better? What do people prefer? Which is more active on the weekends? These are all the questions we want answers to.
Western Housing is the university’s way of monitoring and working with students who use on-campus living. They are the head of everything regarding students living at Western.
What are the main differences between north and south campus residence halls?
“Both areas of campus house first-year students, but south campus has more sophomores, juniors and seniors compared to north campus,” said Western Housing representative Vicki Vanderwerf in an email.
Knowing who you are going to be living around is something I would like to know when choosing my residence hall.
When it comes to the real tips and tricks for students to optimize their residence hall living, the RAs were able to share their secrets. Tera Fitch, an RA of one of the Fairhaven Complex residence halls on south campus, commented on their living situation.
Fitch put a heavy emphasis on the need to maximize your living space, as room sizes differ depending on which residential hall you live in. Her old room had much more space than her current Fairhaven residence.
They see importance in finding fun ways to use the space that residents get, especially when it comes to storing less-essential items. She created a yarn wall that sits at the end of her bed to help control her space use.
“The north campus dorms are a lot nicer, but I've heard that the hall-style buildings are a little depressing,” said Cleo Corbett, a first-year living on south campus in the Fairhaven Complex, in an email. “The south campus dorms are a lot more unique, especially [with] Fairhaven being pretty much in the forest.”
Corbett also said that she wished she had known more about the dining halls before making her living decision.
“I wish I had known about the quality of the Fairhaven dining hall. In my opinion, the [Viking Union] is much better, and I wish I had known that before moving in,” she said.
Obviously, dining hall preferences are different for every student. If you know that you personally have strong opinions about where you eat, this could be an important factor to keep in mind.
Ally O'Connor, an RA in the Edens-Higginson residence halls on north campus, said a key difference is accessibility. She mentioned that being on north campus allows students to be centralized on campus, meaning they are closer to most of the main resources, such as the Viking Union and Wilson Library.
Even though north campus has its perks, O’Connor still said she always recommends students who live there to explore the south campus, too. O’Connor said. “I would say go and explore,” O’Connor said.
Sydney Campbell, a current resident in Higginson Hall, relocated early in her first year from Buchanan Towers because of a roommate issue. She realized the importance of being in the dorm the first two weeks, which allows you to get to know your roommates.
Campbell said Higginson is home to one of the biggest computer labs in a residence hall on campus for students to utilize. She noted that the rooms were smaller, but being able to raise and lower her bed has been really helpful for working with minimal space.
If you know your major coming into college, Campbell said to choose a side of campus that is near where you will be taking most of your classes. She said when she was living on south campus initially, she learned the importance of proximity of classes to living location.
“I'm trying to be a stats major, so all of my classes are in Bond Hall,” Campbell said. “During that time I was living [in Buchanan Towers], I was making this 20-minute trek every day to get to my classes, and then it would be a hassle for me if I had like an hour in between classes because I just didn't want to come back.”
As a current resident in south campus’ Fairhaven myself, I’ve found organizing and optimizing your space to make the most of it is ideal. If you are looking to live in Fairhaven, get some noise-canceling headphones. There is a daycare under Stacks 11 and 12, and kids don't care if you’re asleep at 7 a.m., they will still scream and cry as if it's their job.
Avery Rossman (she/her) is an opinions reporter for The Front. When she’s not writing, you can find her in the gym or cracking jokes and laughing with her friends!