Holly and Xue wrote the first version of this post in 2006 and it has been reposted every year since then. Dorm Life never changes much. Unless Fauver becomes Bennett (wow this joke is old). [Or unless Clark goes on fire a few times]
This is part of our 2019 Unofficial Orientation Series. A quick reminder that you can check out the welcome post here and past years’ series here.
Dear frosh of 2022,
As you are probably fretting about your first day of college, a sense of melancholy (or jittery excitement and increased WesAdmits activity, if you hated high school) has creeped up on you. Are you making lists of toiletries and getting boxes from Staples to pack your life into? Wondering how much action your soon-to-be bed has gotten in the past? A lot, probably.
(Melisa’s note: Our cheery freshmen selves a wee [three years] ago ventured onto the wilderness of Waste Not, and my friends ended up purchasing a futon for very cheap. We ended up *probably* spending the same amount on febreeze that we ended up dousing said futon in. This is to say that even your futon isn’t safe from the wonders of college sexuality.)
But don’t be too frazzled. Before you finish your housing form, get your roommate(s) assignment, and make dorm Facebook groups that no one will check after October, Wesleying‘s here to answer your 40ish most pressing questions related to waking-up-and-instantly-having-200-or-so-of-your-peers-to-hang-out-with.
The pertinent FAQ doesn’t change much from year to year, so we tend to update/repost much of the original guide by Norse Goddess Holly-and-Xue ’08 (cuz it’s still damn good and we’re still damn lazy) every year. This re-vamped guide is up to date and full of Wesleyan lingo:
Q: How are the dorms furnished?
A: This varies by dorm. All rooms have a bed, desk, chair, and some sort of dresser/closet for each inhabitant. Most, but not all, also have shelving, whether it’s a separate bookcase or planks stapled to the wall. If you’re extra lucky, you might even get a corkboard panel on your wall (like in some WestCo or Nics rooms). But Bennet only has dressers and a singular pole to hang your clothes on. That’s right, Bennet Hall, not even a closet. But you guys still get AC and drywall and a general lack of decrepitness.
Q: Are there floor plans I can look at?
A: Yes: 200 Church. Bennet (previously known as Fauver). Butterfield (the Butts). Clark. Nicolson (the Nics). West College (WestCo). And for those living in Writers’ Block, 156 High.
Q: How big are the freshman rooms?
A: Big enough. Or real big.
Here are our personal sizing estimates:
Clark: You will share a small room with one or two other people.
Bennet: See above, ‘Clark.’
Butts: If you are lucky enough to have a single, you have the potential to be a Wesleyan sex god. The doubles are larger than those of Clark and Bennet and have great windows.
The triples are basically the same size as the doubles, maybe a bit bigger.The Butts were newly furnished last year and the ground floor of each Butt is really nice and new now.
(Meli’s Note: You may hate the Butts, but the Butts will always love you.)
(Meli’s Note, Part II: I lived in the Butts, and we were able to fit 24 people into our room. No, it wasn’t a party. It was a hall meeting during Orientation. TAKE THAT, BENNET(T?).)
Nics: Single? See Butts single. Two-room double? The best of two worlds: having a roommate and having your own room. One-room double? Sucks if you’re in the
WestCo: Mostly consists of two room doubles and some singles. There is one hall with four one-room doubles, which are pretty big and carpeted, with stony walls. If you get a two-room double, take the inner room! Endless amounts of closet space await you.
200 Church: An ’08 student says, “Normal-ish in most all ways including size but the walls are so fucking thin you can hear people next door breathe. But geez, you can’t beat the location.”
(Meli’s Note: I had moved in early for the First Things First program, so at night, there really wasn’t much going on. Anyways, we were chilling in 200 watching the VMAs, and PSafe comes to the lounge and starts describing first aid in case a bat bites us. He said, and I quote, “If a bat bites you, make sure you catch it so you can bring it to the hospital to get it tested for rabies.” So, have fun with the bats.)
Some kids will have pitifully small rooms; others may have doubles to themselves (Rizky Rahadianto ’15). You’ll live somewhere, at least, and get an experience out of it. The walls, in general, tend to be thin. You will hear many things. Your neighbor might play “Father Stretch My Hands” on loop for a week straight. They
will might weep, moan, yell and snore. But so will you.
(Melisa’s Note: During finals week last semester, the people above me decided to cope with blasting 2000s Britney Spears for a good two hours. Needless to say, I heard all of them singing along.)
Q: I’ve been assigned to ‘Bennet Hall.’ Where is that?
A: Here. Close to the Freeman Athletic Center (because that’s why you’re really asking).
Q: I got stuck in the Butts. Wah wah wah
A: Many of our friends lived in the Butts last year. You will also know many people who live there. The Butts are actually Wesleyan’s best kept secret. They have their own dining hall, the rooms are spacious and have a lot of natural light, the showers kind of suck but ResLife makes up for it in their attempts at creating a Butts community (yes, that hoodie was actually made/ordered for all Butts dwellers). If you’re a lucky Butt dweller, you might get a renovated room. Embrace the Butts, frosh! This hasn’t been better said than in the Facebook admits page:
Buttstock, Butt Jam, Butt hole. The Butts have everything you need. The Butthole is like a miniature Foss Hill. No worries freshies. You will grow on to the Butts as if they were your own smacking buttocks.
Q: Okay, okay, but what is it like living in all the other dorms?
A: Well, here’s what these folks have to say:
Azher Jaweed ’19 on 200 Church: “Church made my transition from home to dorm easier, providing a comfortable place for me to come home after a long day of readings and assignment. Our communal commitment to social justice and activism brought us together, and there is no other place I’d rather have been during my freshmen year.”
Taylor Dillon ’19 on Butts: ” Living in the Butts (Butterfields) is a great time all around. If you’re in a triple in the butts, you’re guaranteed a huge space with air conditioning. There is a dining table in Butt A’s kitchen, as well as a large seating area with a TV just outside of the kitchen where people watch games, play Super Smash Bros, and do homework during the week. The location is one of the best part of the Butterfield dorms. The “Butthole” is the space in between all of the Butterfield dorms and is a great place to do homework on a sunny day, or eat your Summerfield takeout in. Lastly, the community in the Butts is great because you have both Freshman and Sophomore students living in the dorms. This means you have a good opportunity to meet people in a different class while living in the Butts. Sophomore transfers often live in Butt B and the Copes (small halls filled with just Sophomores) are in every single Butterfield building. At the end of the year there is an event organized by the RAs in the Butts called Butt Stock, where there are burgers, cotton candy, chips, and free merchandise for all the residents in the Butts. Overall, the Butterfield dorms offer a unique experience where Freshman can meet upperclassmen and create a community spanning across three different dorms.
Alexis Jiminez ’19 on Writer’s Block: “Writer’s Block is a really chill place to live – its a relatively small group, which means you can get comfortable and make friends really easily. It is a program house you can easily spend all your time in; most rooms are singles that make it great for studying, but the moment you need some company, you can go to the lounge and you will always find someone to talk to.”
Ray Achan ’19 on Bennet: “Bennet is a friendly environment. I quickly became close to everyone in my hall.”
Aviv Rau ’19 on Clark: “Clark often gets stereotyped as the “athletes’ dorm,” (which isn’t necessarily false) but it’s diverse both in student interests and demographically. Overall, Clark has great study lounges, AC (!), an elevator, and is conveniently located, so you’ll grow to love living there.”
Will Barr ’18 on WestCo: “I lived in WestCo both my Freshman and Sophomore year. WestCo tends to attract artistically-minded people to its community, which I like to describe as traditionally non-traditional. WestCo has been a community on campus for decades, and throws a magical springtime celebration every year for like a lot of years (20? 30?). There are also cool tunnels. It has a progressive history, with Up2 being the first mixed-gender hall at Wesleyan and the first hall to establish gender-neutral bathrooms. Which speaks to WestCo’s tradition of self-governance. WestCo has a weekly community meeting where we do fun things, have group hugs, and talk about important things. WestCo also has its own artistic venue that has hosted everything from sleepovers, performance art, photography shows, open mics, ciphers, poetry readings, plays, and dance performances. It’s a groovy place.
Q: How big are the beds?
A: Twin Extra Long: too big for your sheets and too narrow for imaginative sex. Be aware that some mattress pads that claim to be twin XL are not.
Q: What’s the deal with my roommate(s)? Who are they?
A: Congrats! You know (hopefully) your roommates! Their name(s) will show up in your ePortfolio and soon, and they’re probably going to be the person or people you’ll be eating several of your Usdan meals with. Soon, you can have an email conversation with them that looks something like this:
Roomie A: What’s your fav color, food, movie, tv show, book, country, band, subject, etc? When is your birthday? Where are you from? Did you like high school? Was Wes your first choice?
Roomie B: Blue (so original hah), STEAK but only when the meat is locally produced, That’s such a hard question I just love all classic movies like Casablanca!, Daria, Harry potter (lol!) or anything by Kurt Vonnegut, r.i.p., Ghana (went last summer and it was honestly the most lifechanging experience), Das Racist, have you heard of them?? They went to Wes! woooo, I’m really interested in Classics and Economics, but I think I’m pre-med, April 8th 1996, Boston (..actually 20 miles outside of Boston), ugh I HATED high school so excited for Wes!, It was my top 5 I was choosing between Wes and William & Mary but then I went to Wesfest and had such a blast!!, my high school extracurriculars are newspaper, forensics, model un, kiwanis, student government, cupcake decoratingclub, big sibs, and recycling club but i don’t know what I’ll do at Wes yet except the Argus and WSA sound awesome. Now YOUR TURN!! I’m so excited to live in Bennet Hall next year!!!!!!
Q: OMG I HATE MY ROOMMATE. Can I get rid of hir?
A: Speak to your Resident Advisor. You can request a room change if absolutely necessary. No matter what, remember that you don’t have to be close with your roommate, as long as you communicate well.
A: “Hir” and “ze” are gender-neutral pronouns used in place of “him/her” and “he/she,” respectively. A lot of people also use “they/them.” There are people on campus who prefer to be addressed using gender-neutral pronouns. They’re also useful when you’re unsure of a person’s gender. This will be explained to you during Orientation.
Q: What’s with the gender-neutral bathrooms?
A: In most of the dorms, you pee/poop/shower (hehe) with the other gender(s). Most halls vote on whether or not they’d like gender-neutral bathrooms during Orientation.
Q: What are the fire hazard rules in my dorm? Will I get in trouble for bringing my psychedelic blacklight tapestries?! Fuck, man!
A: These are the fire safety guidelines. You’re not allowed to have candles, incense, halogen lamps, and appliances without automatic shutoff, among other things. You’re also not allowed to smoke within close proximity to any University buildings. Fire inspections are performed once or twice a year (in some dorms more than others). There are fire drills. Most people disregard the fire hazard policies entirely, but Fire Safety can monitor which rooms/halls do this more than others. People get fined quite a bit, so be careful/discreet.
Q: Can I paint my room?
A: No, because then you would get fined. These are all the things you can get fined for. You can try to paint a mural in your hall; just ask your RA at the beginning of the year about this (a form needs to be filled out with ResLife).
Q: How do I get shit to stick to my walls?
A: Double-sided tape. Duct tape. Packaging tape. Experiment with different tapes and sticky things, just don’t make holes in your walls (you’ll be fined). (Unless they’re really tiny invisible holes.
Most dorms are cinderblock so it’ll be hard to pushpin everything. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find one hole that is located perfectly for your tapestry.) Generally speaking, anything that doesn’t ruin your posters won’t stick to the cinderblock. People in Bennet and Clark have it easier since they have drywall. Command strips are decently helpful, and as long as they survive the first month of humidity, they’ll last the year.
(un meli-melo‘s note: to be perfectly honest, making sure your walls remain pure will be an end of the year stress. Pro-tip: if/when some paint chips come off then, use toothpaste or go to Home Depot and ask for Wesleyan White. I personally used a knife to get at the bits of Command strips that wouldn’t get off my wall, and now I have a dulled knife.)
Q: Should I get extra lighting for my room?
A: There is a harsh fluorescent ceiling light for every room. But soft lighting is nice to have, so get whichever cool glowy lamp thing from Ikea you want. Or christmas/non-denominational-holiday lights. They’re cheap and wonderful.
Q: Should I bring a rug? What size?
A: Rugs make your room cozier and you’ll be glad to have one in the winter. A two-room double floor in the Nics or WestCo is nicely covered (from your bed to your desk) by an 8′ x 10′. If you’re in a single in the Butts or the Nics, perhaps a 5′ x 7′ would be better. In a one room double or triple, speak to your roommate(s) about how much you’d want to fill up floor space and go from there.
Q: Where can I buy things for my room after I move in?
A: Definitely stop by the Waste Not! tag sale on Saturday, September 2, and Sunday, September (Times TBD). It will be held both days in the garages behind 44 Brainerd Avenue and 58 Fountain Avenue. Waste Not! collects students’ unwanted furniture at the end of the year, and sells them for great prices during move-in weekend. Here’s a list of prices and items sold. You should definitely stop by on Saturday because there may not be much left on Sunday.
Q. Can I study in my room?
A: Not recommended. You will always be an arm’s length away from doing something else, and when you’re being forced to find a derivative 30 times for a problem set, it’s suddenly really appealing to start watching the tape holding your posters up slowly slide off the cinderblock wall. If you’re into group work, Sci Li will be your new home.
Q: Should I bring my own printer?
A: Definitely convenient to do so. The libraries’ printers aren’t always dependable and it sucks to be printing your last-minute paper at 8:30 a.m. when the printer suddenly gets jammed. Or someone is printing out a 200-page reading assignment (UGH).
Q: My clothes smell funny…?
A: There are washing machines in each dorm and they only accept Middletown Cash. You put Middletown Cash on your WesID card with a credit card.
Q: WesID card? Middletown Cash? Points? WTF?
A: Your WesCard is your lifeline. You’ll get it during Orientation. Do not lose it or it’ll cost you money. You need it for food, mail, access to buildings and to laugh at your ID photo for the entirety of your college career. Points are the default meal plan monopoly money; upperclassmen are on all-points, but frosh and sophomores have a set number of “meals” and then a handful of points. Middletown Cash is different from points. You can use it at certain restaurants in Middletown as well as for laundry, and it carries over from year to year (points don’t).
Q: So where do I eat?
A: There are lots of options on campus. There are also lots of options in Middletown and within driving distance. Check out Frank Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven if you’re by the train station, or just want good pizza. You can also text in your order to Summerfields! Text your order to 860-759-9700, receive an order number and go to the express pick up to pay without waiting in line!
Q: How do I register my car?
A: Bring your insurance, registration, and $100 to the Office of Public Safety (on High Street). You will then get a sticker to place in the rear window of your car designating that it’s registered. The sticker will indicate what year you are and thus the appropriate parking lot you should be in. All freshmen must park their cars in the V-lot. P-Safe and the University is not too keen on frosh bringing their cars anymore, so make sure to get approved for a parking permit asap!
Q: I don’t have a car! What do I do?
A: To quote Droz from PCU (the movie everyone knows is based on Wesleyan and won’t shut up about): “Will you have a car? Someone on your hall will. Find them and make friends with them on the first day.” Also, look into Wesleyan’s Zipcar program. Or use a bike. I kind of feel bad for the kids who bring cars and end up leaving them to rust in the parking lot because campus is so small.
Q: HOW DO I GET HOME TO MOMMYZ AND DADDYZ?!
A: Post forthcoming, but here’s last year’s transportation FAQ. There is a newer schedule for shuttles to Bradley Airport and the New Haven Train Station. Metro North sells tickets to Grand Central Station, and other Connecticut/New York locations. The closest Amtrak station is in Meriden, CT, about 20 minutes away by car.
Q: How far away is New York and/or Boston by car?
A: Shut up. You’ll never go.
A: Okay, they are each about two hours away (Middletown is not a misnomer). Hartford is about 30 minutes away and so is New Haven. Check this out for more info on transportation.
Q: Should I bring a bike?
A: If you want to, sure. The campus is walkable and a bike isn’t necessary, but it is useful to have around, especially to get to Middletown. The Wesleyan Outing Club often sponsors bike rides throughout the area, and if you need to go from the Butts to the CFA in a hurry, a bike really comes in handy (just make sure you bring a solid U-lock). Definitely bring a bike if you want to help power the COE’s bike generators. Just know that campus is definitely not flat, so you will develop some extreme calf power.
Q: What’s in Middletown?
A: Decapitated deer heads. Lots of things (if you stop bitching that it’s not New York). Impressive selection of food, and overall a great town with lots of cool history.
Q: Is there anywhere to go swimming?
A: Miller’s Pond is conveniently located about 5 miles away… which is slightly too far to walk but provides another reason to bring your bike. The Freeman Athletics Center has a pool.
Q: Can I bring my dog/cat/bearded dragon?
A: Reslife’s Faustian housing contract only allows fish in 10 gallon tanks or smaller. This means you can bring awesome fish (Barracuda, Piranha, Sharks, Stingrays, Candiru, Tuna) to Wesleyan.
Q: But I miss my dog! I want to bring him!
A: Well, you’ll probably get fined a lot of money. Good luck!
Q: Seriously, I need my dog to support my physical/mental health.
A: If you need a support animal for your physical/mental well-being, ResLife does make accommodations. Be sure to register with disability services so you can get approval.
Q: Where can I find liquid refreshment?
A: Sinks, fountains, gutters, here. Middletown is conveniently located next to a river containing a substantial amount of liquid refreshment.
Q: What about other… sorts of … err…
A: It will be offered to you. Maybe get some older friends.
Q: I’m straight-edge/don’t drink/smoke. Will I be left out?
A: Not at all. You’ll be offered all kinds of things out of goodwill and the spirit of sharing. If you say “no,” people will respect that and eventually remember. UCab is an alternative activity group that provides really fun things to do on weekend nights for people who don’t partake in the debauchery.
Q: What happens if I get sick?
A: First of all, get rid of that mindset and change that question to “What happens when I get sick,” because it will happen. The most common illnesses that go around campus are the common cold, the flu, mono and the Norovirus (otherwise known as “The Gastro”). A few winters ago, there was practically a gastroenteritis epidemic, a.k.a. the two-day shit-and-vomit extravaganza. This mess happened again last winter, with almost half the school stuck in bed throwing up on themselves.
Unfortunately, you’ll just have to tough it out, though if you’re really ill, it’s worth it to email your professors and usually they’ll grant you an extension or understand if you skip class (Really! They’re nice people!). Weshop sells an assortment of cold remedies, and if you go to health services, they’ll give you a little cold-care pack of ibuprofen and cough drops. It would also help to have your own thermometer, crackers, tea, and Gatorade.
The health center offers gyno exams and tests for every STD imaginable, though you have to pay for those. They also offer Plan B and Orthotricyclen-Lo for ridiculously low subsidized prices.
If there’s a medical emergency, call P-Safe and they’ll send a nice officer to escort you to the Middlesex Hospital. Really intense medical emergency? Call 911.
Q: Do I have to pay for my own condoms?
A: No! WesWell, an office on the first floor of Davison Health Center, has an entire room of sexual health information, including a wide assortment of condoms, lubes, and other items. You can visit it at any time the health center is open and pick up what you need. Don’t rely on your RA stocking the bathroom with condoms because the one big idiot on your hall will take them all and turn them into water balloons, leaving you sexually stranded come Saturday night.
Q: My neighbor is hot. Should I . . .
A: No! (Usually.) Hall booty is bad booty. You will spend lots of time with the people on your hall for the first couple of months as you cling to each other for social warmth. This is all well and good, but a warning:
You share a bathroom with them. Your friends are their friends. You will see them in the hall every day. Every day. When you break up, you will see who they’re bringing home on Friday nights. They will see who you’re bringing home on Friday nights. They will see you not bringing anyone home on Friday night and playing Angry Birds alone in your underwear.
But if it does happen, try to make it as least awkward as possible afterward. That being said, dormcest is not the same thing as hallcest—at least you guys are on different floors…
(Thao’s note: Some hallcest actually works out. My roommate met her boyfriend on the first day here at Wesleyan and they have been dating ever since)
(Thao’s additional note: Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother)
(un meli-melo‘s note:: if you’re going to do dormcest, make sure you don’t have to pass your ex-hookup’s floor on your way to yours; one degree of separation is still awkward af. It’s a small campus so awkwardness is going to happen no matter what, but sometimes it’s best to pause your hormones and remember that eye contact during Usdan brunches is already bad enough, you definitely don’t want to run into that bad booty when you’re hurtling down the stairs with dirty laundry. Perhaps the moral here is that abstinence is key, folks.)
Q: How do I earn money?
A: Whether you’re work study or not, go to the job listings page. All job postings will go up on August 1st. Start looking as soon as you can and sending out emails to employers about a week or two before school starts. Work study is preferred for most of these, but look at the postings anyway. They’ll most likely still hire you, but won’t be able to pay as much. You can also get a part-time job on Main Street. Explore Middletown!
Q: Where can my pen pal send me mail?
A: Your WesBox. Go to your E-Portfolio–>Academic Career–>Student Profile to find your mailing address. It will begin with “45 Wyllys Avenue,” which is pronounced “Willis” even though it’s spelled silly.
Q: What are these mythical tunnels?
A: See here. They’re underneath WestCo, the Butts, and the CFA. Explore them, Frosh-hopper. (Side note: the Butts tunnels are now “closed” and you’re not allowed to go in them. I mean, you can go in them, but there are some serious consequences if you’re caught. Also, asbestos???)
Q: Is there Greek life on campus?
A: A bit. Alpha Delt (Alpha Delta Phi, an all-gender literary society) and PsiU (Psi Epsilon, a co-ed society) have houses, but there’s also Rho Ep (Rho Epsilon, Wesleyan’s only sorority) and Alpha Psi Alpha (the Jewish fraternity), but the secret societies are still secret. Eclectic is getting housing again in the fall, and it looks like DKE might be getting housing again very soon.
Q: Do I really have to attend everything in the packet during Orientation week?
A: This is college. You don’t have to do anything, but it’s highly recommended. You’ll meet lots of other people going through the same thing you are and you might learn something in the process.
Got questions? Get answers. Email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org or leave a helpful, friendly, respectful, well-articulated comment in the comments box and we’ll see what we can do.
Happy living, Frosh!
Thanks Rachel Lindy ’15, Emma Singer ’15, Alex Senauke ’16, Blaise Bayno ’16 and Penina Kessler ’15 for pictures.