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Living By The Numbers

November 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm
By Claire Weinberg

Lately I've been noticing how my habits are changing because I live in a quint. Living in a one-room double, I would feel the need to stay out of my room pretty much until I wanted to go to sleep, because I couldn't get work done in the same space I slept in, and working there I would get too restless to sleep. I also had to hang out in public spaces if I ever wanted to see more than one person (no offense to my roommate). But now we have a common room in the quint that's comfortable without being claustrophobic, and I know that if I'm there in the evening I'll probably see all my roommates at least once. On the one hand, that's a nice feeling, but on the other hand, it means I pretty much never want to leave the room, which leads to a pretty monotonous routine. Anyway, I was thinking about this and realized that the number of people you live with affects your life here in pretty important ways. Here are the pros and cons of each rooming arrangement.

Single. There are single rooms in all the dorms that you can live in starting sophomore year. They're some of the easiest rooms to get in room draw.

  • Pro: PRIVACY. This cannot be overstated as a reason to live in a single. There are very few truly private places on campus, perhaps because of institutional fear of inappropriate behavior in public spaces, I don't really know. But if you have a significant other or like to have your space in the mornings and evenings, a single is a great advantage.
  • Con: LONELINESS. You don't have built-in social interaction if you live in a single, so you can go days without talking to anyone if you don't make an effort. My friend who had a single last year said that for the entirety of fall term, when all the juniors were abroad, no one had been in his single but him. This is a depressing thing. But if you're a solitary person, you might not mind it too much.

Double. There are both one- and two-room doubles in different dorms; it's the most common housing for freshmen and sophomores.

  • Pro: BONDING with one person. If you and your roommate get along, you can get really close. It's nice to have one person to come home to every night (okay, that makes it sound like an arranged marriage, but you get my drift).
  • Con: In a way, I think the double arrangement is the worst one, because you get the drawbacks of a lack of privacy without the benefits of living with multiple people. If you don't get along with your roommate, it's pretty much all cons. 

Triple. There are triples in a few of the dorms; they usually have more than one room in the upperclassmen dorms and one room in Watson.

  • Pro: AUTOMATIC LITTLE GROUP OF FRIENDS. Walking through Burton, I always see this one triple of freshman girls decorating their door or sitting around talking in their room. If you're a freshman I can see how it would be helpful to have a little starter set of ready-made friends. You might think that two of the roommates could end up bonding and leaving out the other one, but surprisingly, in the case of people I know, that hasn't happened.
  • Con: MORE PEOPLE, MORE PROBLEMS. In a one-room triple, it's really easy to have conflicts over sleep schedules, tidiness, etc. because there are three opinions instead of two. 

Quad/Quint. These are generally only available as a junior or senior, and only in Evans, Memorial, Davis and Severance.

  • Pro: It's like a little FAMILY! Seriously, I always feel a really nice family type dynamic when we're all sitting around in the common room working or whatever; there are positive vibes without it being actively social. But if you want to be social, you can do that too and not even have to invite anyone over. You also tend to get large individual rooms in addition to the large common room. Quint living is my favorite so far.
  • Con: The BATHROOM will get very dirty if everyone expects everyone else to clean it. That's about all.

Townhouse. These are for 4, 5 or 6 people. You will only get this as not only a senior, but a very lucky senior with a friend with a draw number in the top 15 or so.

  • Pro: SAME PROS AS A QUAD OR QUINT but also you're off board and can cook for yourself.
  • Con: It probably sucks you in and makes you not want to leave your house even more than living in a quint in a dorm does, since the townhouses are slightly farther away from campus.

More than 6 people (interest house, off-campus house). You draw into these either by applying to live in an interest house or by getting Northfield Option.

  • Pro: You get your own space in what feels like a community; it feels more "real" because it's a real house and not a college-owned building.
  • Con: With too many people, there can get to be factions in the house that argue over things like noise or chores.  

SO ANYWAY. Those are the living options; ideally I'd suggest taking advantage of all of them just to try them out.

P.S. The thing I've been doing the most of lately, besides putting off finals, is working on the creation of Occupy Northfield, which is a response to Occupy Wall Street. So far it's been pretty much just putting the group together and deciding on a name and direction, but we should start getting into the real stuff soon, which is exciting. Occupy Wall Street excites me because it's the first widespread movement I've ever seen that talks openly about class and socioeconomic issues, which, if you've read my blog entries about academics, you'll know is one of the subjects I feel the most strongly about. I had always been sure that the entire subject of economic inequality would stay swept securely under the rug in America for as long as I lived, so this is a great surprise. (That's also how I defend the movement from claims of aimlessness, because at least it starts people talking about what could or should be the possible aims.) So if you're a Carleton person, you should like the page on Facebook I linked to (shameless promotion).

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