With each announcement, students' perceptions of on-campus housing shift. The Quad has long been perceived as an essential part of the freshman experience — it’s the center of social life and a Penn landmark. But the reality is, the proposed renovation is long overdue.
Needless to say, the Quad holds a remarkable legacy. For many, living in the Quad is the epitome of not only the freshman experience, but the Penn experience. Walking through those towering gates into the majestic castle means you become a part of a magnificent tradition.
However, those living in the Quad give up basic amenities — clean bathrooms, peace and quiet, and rodent-free hallways, to say the least. In return, they get to live the college experience to the fullest, so it’s all worth it, right?
When I was applying for housing, I devised what I thought to be an ingenious plan, but to some, it was unthinkable. For my six housing choices, only two were from the Quad, and they were both at the bottom. At the top was the glorious New College House, which is where I am now. Meanwhile, some of my peers listed houses from the Quad as many times as possible.
Sure, I saw the appeal of the Quad being an environment where everyone around you is also a struggling freshman, just trying to figure out college the same way you are. Still, at the end of the day, I’m paying a large chunk of money for housing; social life is just an added bonus.
This large chunk of money inflates with each academic school year. For the year of 2016-2017, housing cost $9,450. Two years have passed, and the price has increased 7.94 percent to $10,200. When applying, housing prices perplexed me. How is it that a student living in a non-air-conditioned, rodent-infested double room, sharing a bathroom with other floormates, has to pay the same price as another student living in an air-conditioned, hygienic, large single with a private bathroom? Rooms vary drastically, yet there’s one set value for them all.
Taking this into consideration, I needed to weigh my factors. What are the essential elements in a room that you can’t find elsewhere? Privacy, shelter, and comfort. My bedroom at home was my sanctuary. It was the place where I could find peace and block out the hectic life outside. It was where I spent many hours, plopped in my bed, watching episode after episode of whatever TV show I was obsessed over. It was where I solved the most difficult math problems, wrote the most beautiful essays, read the most heart-wrenching books, and drew the most elaborate sketches. It was where I would laugh hysterically, sob uncontrollably, dance embarrassingly, and be completely me. It was an extended vestige of myself.
Especially at Penn, a school bursting with academic rigor, my room has to be the place where I can unwind. Social life and the freshman experience can be found outside of my room, outside of the hallway, and outside of the college house. Living in a certain college house doesn’t exclude one from gaining the freshman experience, and not living in the Quad doesn’t signify that you are less of a Penn student than a Quad resident. Penn’s traditions are spread throughout campus, and students find their own niche in each college house. Why not find this niche in the most comfortable, accommodating one?
Freshman opinions show that they are beginning to seek this comfort and accommodation. NCH, in particular, is a well sought-after option. Students are able to enjoy suites with private, single rooms, common areas with welcoming sofas, clean bathrooms within every suite, and a flat screen TV that connects to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other entertainment apps. Along with the room and suite furnishings, NCH includes kitchens, laundry rooms, seminar rooms, a reading room, a dining hall, a private courtyard, and more. Within suites, you experience the friendly, relatable feeling of “figuring out college together.” There’s also an abundant amount of opportunities to socialize with fellow housemates.
Events are planned every other week, whether it’s an outing to Sky Zone or a dinner for Restaurant Week. NCH may not stand against the long legacy of the Quad, but within three years, NCH has developed a stellar reputation. It’s no brain teaser why students are choosing to stay in NCH after freshman year. The exquisite blend of superb amenities and community captivates all.
It’s time to move on from what’s traditionally “cool” to what’s livable. Amenities must outmaneuver traditions, and Penn is finally acknowledging many issues, including students’ needs for these amenities, by announcing the Quad renovation. Students should not have to relinquish comfortable living conditions just to gain a sense of belonging. Only then will students truly find their home away from home.
CHRISTY QIU is a College freshman from Arcadia, Calif. studying architecture. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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