Behind closed doors

Jackie Valley

Freshmen adjust to hall life, social environment


Credit: John Proppe

Sounds of laughter, music and “Grey’s Anatomy” fill the hallways of some residence halls, but in others, the only audible sound is the hum of the air conditioning.

With the opening of Johnson and Stopher Halls this year, both of which house freshmen, socialization among the students was a major concern, said Residence Hall Director Michelle Limle.

“There was a concern that because of the (personal) bathrooms (in the rooms), students would keep their doors shut,” Limle said, adding that numerous freshmen’s parents made phone calls concerning the social environment of the new residence halls.

So far, the reaction has been positive, said Kaitlin Rowden, sophomore integrated social studies major and resident assistant in Stopher Hall.

“In Centennial, a lot of people keep their doors shut, but from what I’ve seen in Stopher, it’s been amazing,” Rowden said.

Across campus in the First Year Experience, Residence Hall Director Beth Chambers said many students are making connections, getting to know each other and the resident assistants.

“Because (students) literally have to come out of their rooms to use the bathrooms, it is hard not to interact with someone,” Chambers said.

Despite the advantage of living with all freshmen, First Year Experience has its flaws, said freshman family and consumer sciences major Andrea Lovrik.

“It’s too far away from everything,” Lovrik said. “People keep their doors open, but they only talk to the people they want to.”

On the other hand, Leah Kasmenn, a freshman early childhood education major living in Centennial F, said that although residents do not keep their doors open very often, she thinks that it is a friendly environment.

“We have a group that hangs out in the lounge,” Kasmenn said.

Freshman exploratory major Sean Hughes, a resident of Koonce Hall in Tri Towers, said he believes socialization has more to do with gender than the differences between residence halls.

“It’s easy for guys to meet people because we get together to do sports,” Hughes said. “On Friday, we are already having a football game – 10th floor versus the seventh floor.”

Roommates Anna Strawn and Jennifer Self, who live in Johnson Hall, agree that gender plays a role in residence hall socialization.

While girls might be more concerned with what other people think, guys are easy-going and tend to make friends faster, said Strawn, a political science major.

“The guys on the hall are louder and will say hi,” said Self, a sociology major.

Strawn and Self stuck to traditional ways of meeting people in Johnson Hall.

“We left our door open, and we were like ‘Oh, I hope someone talks to us,’ and someone did, so we went out to lunch with them,” Strawn said.

Other freshmen have taken the path less traveled.

“One girl made a cake and offered it to other people and now she knows a bunch of people,” Strawn said.

Resident assistants also attempt to foster socialization among residents by organizing residence hall activities.

“The programs serve educational purposes,” Rowden said, “but it is also a good way to keep people involved. It makes college more fun.”

Ultimately, students have to make the effort to interact with each other, Lovrik said.

Contact news correspondent Jackie Valley at [email protected].