Campus Cribs: Ritzy and run-down senior picks

Seniors have a lot going for them. They have survived three years in the purple bubble, often emerging with beautifully padded resumes that will ensure them first place on employers’ ever-elusive “we’ll call you when it’s no longer the second Great Depression” list. They have become experts in their respective fields of study. Many are writing theses. They are the heads of clubs and committees and the captains of sports teams.

Yet the truest litmus test of seniority is every senior’s housing situation. They are the class with the best picks in the draw; they are the only ones allowed to live in co-ops, or, if they’re on top of their game circa fall of sophomore year, to choose an apartment off campus and entirely bypass the weird sociology of the stuffy little ante-room in The Log where friendships come to die as each pick-group member, silently eyeing the competition and sending mental messages to that girl from theater class to stay the heck away from a certain senior single, contemplates whether under pressure they would shirk the bonds of friendship and rush to a palatial row house dingle, or remain drugged by the impetus of the entire room-draw process.

This issue of campus cribs is dedicated to those seniors who fared best and worst.
The worst room I saw during my research was one inhabited by two seniors who did indeed succumb to the misfortunes of being in a large pick-group.

One note on criteria before I move on: “Worst” here is “one with the least ‘objectively good’ (don’t kill me philosophers – more on this later) things going for it,” and “best” is the opposite, “one with the most good things going for it.”

It is not surprising, therefore, that the worst house is likewise the least interesting. Not a grimy room in Meadow, one that would have benefited from the (albeit somewhat mysterious) perceived good of living off campus, the room I toured was a tiny double on the third floor of Goodrich House (not to be confused with Goodrich Coffee Bar). It’s one of those attic rooms where the ceiling is sloped and really low, and it has been appropriated from the rest of the house in such a way that a narrow L-shaped passage leads from the corner to the single, tiny closet, home to an annoying pipe the occupants tend to trip on as they dress.

The room belongs to Santiago Sanchez-Borboa ’11 and Antonio Lorenzo ’11, a pair that claims close friendship, both to one another and to the rest of their pick-group to whom they remained loyal – yet who obviously gave them the shaft. “The walls suck,” Lorenzo said. “You can’t put anything on them, and we keep hitting our heads.” Fortunately for Lorenzo, the academic gods paired him with an English and philosophy double major who is working on a thesis and a fellowship and whose real address is Sawyer Carrell 335. “He goes to bed after I am asleep and leaves before I wake up,” said an admittedly lonely-sounding Lorenzo.

Note to rising seniors on things to avoid from this example: If it’s a small double that leads to loss of brain cells from constant cranium-ceiling contract, you probably should not pick into the room.

As for the best housing on campus, Milham House, the large blue co-op on Hoxsey Street, is unquestionable. Consistently the first pick in the co-op draw, it has a large glassed-in porch, an oak-panelled foyer and a living room with a television the size of a large yak (one of those boxy numbers that rests on speakers built-in underneath it). Furthermore, after being warmly greeted I was handed a cool, stiff, literally pint-sized gin and tonic.

The rooms are all gems; one even has its own private porch. Yet the best room, as in number-one pick within the number-one co-op group, was a spacious wood-panelled number on the first floor that belongs to Jake Levinson ’11. Not only is it roomy, with a decoratively tiled fireplace and private access to the sun porch, but it also has a magnificent carved hutch built into one entire wall. Now that’s classy. “I definitely got what I wanted,” said Levinson. “I’ve ordered myself a queen-sized bed.” All the residents of Milham are going to be wallowing in nostalgia come next year when they find themselves paying eight times the rent for a tiny roach-infested 14th-floor walk-up they share with five roommates.

Quick recap: Milham is always the best, doubles with strange, low ceilings are always the worst, blah blah blah. Yet there was one house I visited that defies all expectation. It takes my criteria, picks them apart and hurls them into the weak scaffold of my standards for good and evil.

This is the apartment that belongs to Alex Bain ’11 and Pat Jones ’11, located in the building that houses That’s a Wrap. “This is prime real estate,” Bain reminded me. Indeed, the building is just steps from the movie theater, bar and numerous other Spring Street attractions. “It’s great for watching girls,” explained Jones as he peered out the window onto the street. Yet this exposure does go both ways – as the postal workers have an equally good view of Jones and Bain. “Blinds will be purchased,” Bain assured me.

I was taken in through the house’s front door, which opens onto Bain’s “ante room.” In theory, Bain has a suite with a bedroom and a sitting room. However, in this particular set-up, even the area of the two rooms combined form only one average-sized space. With the random (it is apparently not load-bearing) wall thrown in, the ante-room fits naught but a futon, a chest and an American flag that takes up one entire wall. Furthermore, the tiny bedroom only fits a full-sized bed that still nonetheless seriously diminishes the closet’s accessibility.

Yet Bain’s digs are not the apartment’s defining feature. On the other side of Bain’s suite is the apartment’s kitchen. The expected stove, counters and cupboards make it a pretty run-of-the-mill place. Or is it? No kitchen I know of houses, in lieu of dining table, the sizeable bed of one of its residents. It’s like something from a Victorian novel – except this one is 70s themed. The posters and large wooden phonograph, all taken from the den-of-iniquity-turned-furniture-dumping-ground formerly known as “The B,” look like they come from 40 years ago, as do, according to Bain, “the couch, the floor, the dirt on the floor.”

In any case, the two seem happy. They could offer me both beer and foodstuffs, both of which were in arms reach. So I got to thinking: The pair get to live with their friends in a Spring Street apartment that expertly places them at the center of a Williamstown lifestyle, with the added bonus of good cleavage shots of those walking below. The huge theoretical bonuses certainly live up to the ostensible horror of such a lifestyle, so by my criteria I cannot in good conscience label this “the worst senior housing” as I had planned to do.

Anyway, how did I get so mired in the logistics of room-layout and function? Living in the kitchen certainly shortens the time and distance of the hellish pre-caffeinated walk from the warmth of bed to breakfast and beyond. Certainly, this apartment is food for thought. “It’s the best and the worst all in one!” said Bain.