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Dorm Living

USA | Monday, 8 June 2015 | Views [373]

I feel like I should begin by saying that, although I've lived on a campus for the past five years, I've never really had to deal with communal bathrooms. Maybe for a week or two at a time for previous summer programs. It's also been two years since I've had my bed in the same room as my roommate. At college, my "roommate" was much more of a suite mate, since we shared a bathroom and hallway with closets, and each had our own separate rooms. Which makes this summer the longest I'll live in a traditional dorm. Given the dorm, I'm completely OK with spending 7 weeks here.

Stoddard Hall

This is the outside of Stoddard Hall. It's where I and the four other girls in the program will be staying for the summer. (Right next door is Elliott Hall, which will house the guys. It looks identical from the outside, and, though I've not yet been in to confirm it, we have reason to suspect the two are the same, except that Elliott Hall has bathrooms for males instead.) Built in 1835, It was the second dorm on campus (Elliott was the first) making those two the oldest residence halls in Ohio. They were renovated in 2012 and 2013, so they have all the value of being old with none of the disadvantages.

Apart from the lack of a bathroom in the room, the disadvantages are all modern. There aren't many that I've noticed so far, but I might as well mention them. First, the doors are unlocked by key card. There's no way to set the room to not lock automatically, which means you need to remember your key card every time you leave. Also, the key pad is a little finicky. I'm still figuring it out.

The other disadvantage is climate control. Although the building is air conditioned, there's not much control over the individual room. I can theoretically change the temperature to any range between 70 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit, but I can't turn it off. Even when the temperature outside is perfect and the thermostat is convinced that I need heat. (Also: yes, every dorm I've lived in for long periods of time has had an in-room thermostat that responded to what I said unless my roommate overrode it. I'm aware that's spoiled me.)

Now, back to wonderful things about my dorm. Let's begin with my room.

The beds in my room

This picture shows about half of it. Specifically the half that has beds in it and is therefore more interesting. Behind the camera are two desks (small desks. Enough room for maybe four laptops if you felt like setting them side by side and didn't care about being able to type on them), one cabinet with three draws (I moved my out from under my bed but my roommmate, Dana, left hers there. This way I have more desk space. I could probably fit six laptops if I wanted to!) a trash can, recycling bin, mini fridge (it came with the room) another window, and two closets. And also a lot more floor space than you would expect from a room in a college dorm. You could probably play Twister in here if you were so inclined, though you might need to move some of the furniture.

And then below, you can see a bit more detail on some of the furniture. In betwen the bookshelf and the dresser there used to be a narrower cabinet, but since that was the one piece of furniture that had wheels, I moved it out of the way. (I moved it out of the way because in college, I keep my laundry basket under the bed, and any change of habit would be unnecessary and upsetting.) But it has a bookshelf that so far fits all of the books I have with me, which is really all I need.

More pictures of my rom

My room is called the John P. and Helen S. Scholar-Leader Room. Above the fridge is a helpful plaque talking a little bit about them and the scholarship they established. The scholarship was established in 1984 by Maryloo Spooner Schallek, M.D. She graduated from Miami University in 1942, and recognized the uniqueness of her parents support for her education. John Paul Spooner was an alumnus of Indiana University and Rush Medical School, he served in the Medical Corps during World War I, and continued to practice medicine until his death in 1964. Helen Stiles Spooner, like most women at the time, did not go to college, though she enjoyed Latin and Physiology. She passed away in 1948. The scholarship was established in their honor.

Rooms vary slightly. Maram has a single room, which is under half the size of Dana and mine. Delaney and Griselda share a double room that has a bend in it and seems to be larger. I've not gone around knocking on random people's doors to see what the remaining rooms look like. Even if I were that curious, I don't think I'd have much luck, since most of the rooms seem to be empty. From what I can tell, there are the five of us, the TA/RA for the program, and two other people who are here for unrelated reasons. I might be missing some people, but certainly the building seems pretty empty. Which is nice. It also takes away the worst parts of a communal bathroom. (I'd imagine)

I live on the third floor. Other than bedrooms, it contains: a cleaning closet, an electrical grid, a bathroom, a water fountain (I've never felt such a strong urge to call it a bubbler. Just to make it clear that I go to school in Wisconsin) and two sets of stairs. (No elevator, which is perfectly fine with me.) The second floor isn't that much more interesting. The first floor is.

The first floor contains... a laundry room! For $1.75 (plus soap and clothing) you can either wash or dry your clothes. How exciting! (Or at least practical.)

A Very Good Dorm

Even better than the laundry room is the kitchenette. And I don't mean this one sarcastically. In my mind, any dorm that has not only a fridge and a microwave, but also a stove and an oven, is a very good dorm. I might never use it, but just knowing that if I buy an artichoke, or the perfect cake mix, I have a means of preparing it is nice. Also, with the chairs and windows and such, it's overall a nice kitchen. I would be very happy in an apartment with a kitchen that looked like that. I wouldn't even be disappointed if it diddn't have the vending machines that are out of frame in the picture but present in the real kitchenette.

And finally, the living room.


I've often noticed that the nicer furniture looks, the less comfortable it is. I'm not sure if this is an oversight ("let's see, we want it to be really pretty. Diamonds are pretty! What do you mean diamonds aren't comfortable to sit on?") or intentional, ("I want furniture that looks absolutely amazing and lasts forever. But it will deteriorate if I let people sit on it. Hmmm...") but it seems to be a common problem. So my first instinct when I saw the living room is "no way is this going to be comfortable."

Pleasantly enough, I turned out to be wrong. Several of the chairs are a bit stiff, but some are fine, and the couch is wonderful. The TV works, and the choice of channels is eclectic. (Flipping through them last night, we heard programs in English, German, Spanish, Chinese, and French.)

To the right a fireplace that looks like it has been used in the past. Likely not since the last renovation, which would be a shame. I think of a working fireplace the same way I think of a oven and stove. And it's so easy to imagine a group of people getting into a lively discussion over coffee or tea as the fire crackles away and the snow falls outside. It's just one of those rooms.

Sing us a song, you're the piano man


Directly behind the camera is a piano. There's a stats binder waiting for someone to open it and play, and to the side some sheet music that seems to have been left over from a concert. On top of the piano is a picture that probably contains the residents from Stoddard and Elliott last year. (There are both men and women, so it can't just be one.)

Between the fireplace and the piano, the room has more character than I tend to expect out of a shared area in a dorm. But it almost feels like the kind of room I could find in the living room of a house. It's just missing a book shelf or two. With the addition of that, and maybe a writing desk, it would feel a lot like a home. Not my own, but a home nonetheless.

I mentioned earlier that my room has a name, but the plaque describes a scholarship of that name. That's because during the school year, Stelliott Halls are for the scholar leaders. To be one, upperclassmen go through a multi-step application procedure. If they are one of about 75 scholar leaders selected each year, they receive a partial scholarship and live in the corresponding room for the next year. (Among other academic and leadership requirements) Due to the process required to live there during the school year, Stoddard Hall is one of Miami University's most prestigious dorms to live in.

More importantly, though, it's my home for the summer. I think it's going to be a good one.

Tags: books, buildings, dorm, fireplace, piano

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