I can remember the feeling of my stomach dropping last year as I noticed the change in my housing group leader’s facial expression. As she went on to tell us we were without a pick time I went numb to the ruckus occurring around me. No longer could I hear the cheering groups of eight scattered across Mac or the boy at the table next to us frantically trying to contact his group leader who was in class. All I could hear was “We didn’t get a pick time.” The next two days followed suit as we received no pick time for a four or nine man. After weeks of holding the mindset that “anything but CoRo will be fine” I found myself joining the ranks of people who hoped to God they ended up on College Road and not Greycliff.
After receiving a late pick time for my first year on main campus I felt world weary about the whole process. As a naïve little freshman my eyes were fully opened to the lottery system that is BC housing. Yes, the system is random, but that doesn’t prevent students from being placed into a hierarchy of groups based on chance. Before I began my flight as an Eagle, I was lumped into what every BC undergrad knows to be the lesser of the two housing options for freshman. As I’ve aged, however, I’ve realized there is a way to beat the system: everyone has the ability to make the most of their time here, no matter where they live.
While I am thankful for being a Newton freshman, I am also thankful it’s over. I will admit that there was not much I didn’t like about Newton when I lived there. The people were awesome, Stuart is (arguably) the best dining hall on campus, I made unforgettable memories, and I started my college experience off with joy. I was one of the annoying people who would rarely admit their resentment of their home 2.5 miles away from the school they pay dearly to attend. But it was there, bubbling under the surface. I knew what every BC student thought: Newton doesn’t stand a chance against Upper at the most basic level. I mean, honestly, we take a bus to classes, hockey games, and club meetings for ¼ of our college experience.
All of this comes together to equal one simple fact: Upper freshman—whether they know it or not—have a sense of superiority over Newtonites that is only “earned” by random selection (or their status as an athlete). This inherent supremacy sets the bar for a quiet but prevalent part of BC culture. On top of academic work load, balance of social life, and stress of applying to clubs, the foolish hierarchy says that one BC student is better than another because of where they live by random assignment.
In a perfect world this puppet act would end as we return for sophomore year. Alas, we are again placed into two main groups: Lower and CoRo. Switch out the status of Newton freshman, sub in CoRo sophomore and you get the gist of the pity one receives upon answering the question, “Where are you living?”
Junior and senior year the system is better, but imperfect nonetheless. While there isn’t much of a hierarchy in our third year of housing there is the new struggle of navigating off campus housing, appealing, and studying abroad. To come full circle, our final housing week features outward expressions of joy and sorrow all over campus as soon-to-be seniors discover whether or not their pick time is good enough to land them in a coveted mod.
Unless one were to manage getting a spot on Upper, Vandy, a prime off campus house, and a Mod, there is no way each and every one of us don’t harbor even the slightest disgruntled attitude toward residential life here on campus. After discussing my distress with friends from other schools I am often met with shock that I will be continuing to live on campus come my third year in college. Schools like University of Cincinnati, for example, only have housing accommodations for 24% of the student population. Most students live in dorms only during their freshman year, making the housing process a one-time thing. Hearing this only makes our situation all the more agonizing.
It’s fair to say I am cynical toward BC’s housing system because of my random bad luck. I won’t deny it. But I will acknowledge that you don’t have to live in the best places on campus to have a great four years at BC. Its cliché, but it really is up to you to make the most out of every situation. Here’s my advice to you: bond over misfortune. There are so many reasons I am thankful to have lived on Newton but number one is that I met my current roommates there. I wouldn’t trade them for Upper, and I mean that.
For freshmen entering your first housing week: breathe through it. It’s a stressful week and many will be wildly disappointed with where they end up. Know that no matter the residence hall at BC—be it Cushing, Walsh, Stayer, Iggy, or the Mods—it’s up to us to beat the system and not let the less desirable living situations bring us down. The system isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and that isn’t going to change in the foreseeable future.
By making the best out of the bad hand life (or in this case, Res Life) has dealt us, we may take away a lesson that will stick with us through many aspects of our lives. From my quad in Williams—a dorm whose name I didn’t know until that fateful day last year—I can declare that I am happier now than I would have ever imagined when I didn’t receive a pick time for an eight man. Even if I am at the bottom of the hierarchy, I can still find some reasons to still feel on top.