Sunday was D-day in Berkeley. D stands for “Dorm,” by the way.
Caravans of U-Hauls containing the possessions of thousands of soon-to-be Cal students stormed the city, while other modern-day packhorses swallowed up virtually every space in the South Berkeley area. This was the official UC Berkeley dormitory move-in day.
The simultaneous observation of such a great number of family units was unusual. Once disembarked, students and their families stood in lengthy lines awaiting elevator service to the high-rise units, not unlike the line to an outhouse at Woodstock.
Just what is it that attracts droves of students to the dorms anyway?
“I don’t want to clean out bathrooms; I don’t want to clean other people’s urine,” says sophomore Ben Yuen of Ida Sproul Hall in Unit 3. “I don’t want to cook my own meals and I don’t want to do dishes. I’ll use that extra time to study more or go out.”
And there you have it.
Like many students, the Berkeley housing crunch led Yuen to opt for a second year in the dorms. Not surprisingly, as the Berkeley apartment market grows tighter, the growing number of students in the dormitories have become more and more scrunched together. Rooms built for two students now accommodate three. Former student lounges have been converted into bedrooms (Yuen lives in a former lounge, complete with a big glass window on the door. He chose the room, however, for its ample lighting).
“I’m not too happy about it, but we’ll work it out,” said Elizabeth Shemaria, a junior transfer who found herself in a converted triple in Unit 2’s Ehrman Hall. “I just didn’t have a lot of time to find housing and it was easier to fill out a form and get housing that way.”
As a transfer, Shemaria and a bevy of older students in the dorms will have to adjust to a number of overtly paternalistic rules governing everyday life. There will always be a Resident Assistant nearby to make sure you turn the music down, put out that cigarette, don’t lean on the windows, take the hubcap off your bulletin board or put down that bottle of Jack Daniel’s (especially that last one).
In addition to learning to follow the rules (or elude them), dorm residents are about to undergo one of the joys of co-ed living – sharing the halls, lounges and even the bathrooms.
“I asked to be on the co-ed floor, but I forgot about men in the bathroom,” said Ida Sproul resident Cynthia Park. “I don’t think it’ll be an issue. Well, at least for right now. I only got here a couple of hours ago.”
We’ll see how she feels in a few more hours. Other students were more wary of the grooming habits of the opposite sex.
“My sister goes to Cal Poly and they have male and female wings over there. We went into the male wing and it was so smelly!” said Ehrman Hall resident Jennifer Haug. “Here we have girls in every other room, so that ought to cut the smelly factor.”
Offending females’ olfactory senses is something one rarely has to worry about at all-male Bowles Hall, the classic “They put me WHERE?” dorm at Cal.
“I requested Units 1, 2 and 3 and got Bowles,” said freshman Tom Walker. “Co-ed living, I would have liked that. Oh well. It happens.”
While Walker and others will not be able to participate in the wondrous experience of meeting members of the opposite sex without even trying (at least this year), Bowles Hall residents are rewarded with a gorgeous house, marvelous view and what is traditionally the best Dining Commons on campus.
The Daily Planet wanted to know about the truth of tales of Grade-D (tasting) meat and walking rice. But one four-year dorm veteran claimed “DC” food was on the up-and-up (and with a straight face!).
“My freshman year, it was bad. Well, maybe not bad. It was always edible, so that’s good,” says senior Tanveer Makhani, a resident assistant at Ida Sproul. “Dorm food is much improved.”
Makhani may not know it, but RAs have been saying that since the Campanile was just a gleam in John Galen Howard’s eye. If this year is like any other, more than a few students will actually lose the “Freshman 15,” skipping dorm meals to survive on a diet of Mountain Dew and Clorets. But at least they can suffer in a co-ed environment (sorry Bowles).
“It’s OK,” says Bowles resident Dan Spence. “It’s only my first year. I’ll get wild and crazy pretty soon.”