Choose your own “res” adventure

If you’ll be spending first year in all-girls

By Tricia Summers
Assistant A&E Editor

There’s a certain stigma attached to all-girls residences. I remember some of my floormates recounting, with horror, their discovery that they had been allocated to a single-sex dormitory. They figured they were in for a 1950s, G-Rated lifestyle.

I, on the other hand, don’t remember being particularly upset—perhaps it was naiveté on my part, but I think I’d always expected to be in a chicks-only living arrangement. Not sure why. So when my packet came, bearing “307 Chown Hall,” my reaction wasn’t negative; in fact, I think I was sort of glad—not as glad as my Dad was, but glad—because I remembered walking by Chown Hall on a campus tour and deciding I liked the looks of it from the outside.

Of course, as with all residences, things don’t turn out exactly the way you expect them to. Chown does have its upside: it’s an old, well-established, reportedly alumni-favoured building that offered pretty great amenities—at least until they built Watts and Leggett Halls in 2003.

Chown is generally a very clean space, with a relatively low resident-to-bathroom ratio. In fact, Chown’s bathroom facilities are separate and individual, which means no “gang showers,” no elementary-school-style toilet stalls and a fair degree of privacy.

Chown’s location on Main Campus is unbeatable, and certainly came in handy for that pesky Friday morning 8:30 class. Chown is also very quiet, which was often frustrating, but hey—it’s easier to find noise than to get away from it, as many of my friends in Victoria Hall learned.

There’s also a certain degree of freedom that being in an all-girls environment allows. If, for example, I forgot my watch on the ledge in the shower, I didn’t think twice about running across the hall in my underwear. And as for the trip between the shower and my room, I never once felt compelled to use that fluffy, powder-blue bathrobe that hung on the back of my door.

All-girls definitely has its downsides, though. I recall growing extremely frustrated during the time between Frosh Week and Thanksgiving because of the ever-present throng of females in my life. Most of my closest childhood friends were guys, and thanks to my Gael Group—English is apparently unpopular with the men—and my status as a “Chownie,” I thought I was quickly drowning in a boundless sea of estrogen.

But eventually, through the lovely process of networking, I began to make guy friends. It was one of my floormates who introduced me to my boyfriend, and nearly a year and a half later, we’re still together. And despite the lack of testosterone in my living space, I made some spectacular friends there. My don and I became very close, and some of my best girlfriends at Queen’s were Chownies.

So, despite the extreme lack of guys and the relatively low-key social scene, I don’t regret being a Chownie. I was close to class and the dining halls, I could take thirty-minute showers with a locked door, and my biggest noise enemy was the occasional gaggle of giggling girls. And I made some splendid friendships that I may not have had the pleasure of making otherwise.

So here’s a word of advice: if you open that packet and see either Chown, Adelaide or Ban Righ, don’t sweat it. The key is to be outgoing and social, because if you are, the pros can certainly outweigh the cons.

... if you’ll be living out on West Campus

By Allison Cross
Op-Ed Editor

I remember waiting all summer to receive my residence assignment. Generally, I was worried about two things. One, I was terrified of having a roommate. And two, I didn’t want to live on West Campus.

I’ve learned that in my life, when I desperately don’t want something to happen, it happens. So alas, I was placed at West Campus—also known as Jean Royce Hall—but to my relief, in a single room on a co-ed floor. If this is your fate as well, don’t despair, because living on West Campus is unforgettable in so many ways. In my life, I’ve also learned that when I desperately don’t want something to happen, it ends up happening for the best.

The rumours are indeed true: the food is superior. The cafeteria itself is much smaller than Leonard or Ban Righ on main campus, so you’ll never have to sit alone, eating quickly and trying not to make eye contact with anyone. The lunches are legendary on West—I found myself catching the bus back between classes just so I could eat there. For 75 per cent of “Westies,” the cafeteria is right inside the building—a luxury in the dead of winter.

In general, I also found that we residents of West are closer to one another and more adventurous than those who lived on Main. When everything isn’t a five-minute walk away, you’re forced to use your creativity and make the best of what’s around you. We took time to explore Portsmouth, the tiny village on the edge of Lake Ontario, only a three-minute walk from Jean Royce Hall. I memorized the bus routes—free with your student card—and can still inform any former Main Campus resident on how to get to Cataraqui Mall, Value Village or Wal-Mart, none of which are within walking distance of the University.

When it comes to Homecoming weekend, you’ll be the only students not trudging from Main Campus in your baggy coveralls, and when midday drinking forces you to take a nap, you can just walk around the corner and fall into bed. Now, I’ll be honest about the distance. It is indeed a twenty-minute walk from Main Campus. That pesky frosh fifteen (the fifteen pounds you are expected to gain from cafeteria food) will not be a problem. The buses aren’t quite as reliable as the University may have you believe, so getting to class on time will take a bit of planning.

There may also be days you’ll feel isolated in a residence that looks like a Lego building block, so I recommend you find reasons to leave West that don’t involve school. Apply for jobs, join a club or initiate friendships with your classmates. As much fun as residence—any residence—can be, there will always come a time when you need a break.

Some people say West Campus is quieter than other residences, but I say this depends on your floor. The plus side to living in a single-room-only residence is the lack of roommate conflicts and the joy of simply closing your door to some privacy, peace and quiet.

So when you tell the other frosh you meet that you live on West and receive the infamous head tilt and smile of pity, don’t take it. Take pleasure in knowing you’ll have buns of steel by April and paid at least $500 less than those suckers on Main.

... and if you’re not into the “res” thing

By Jay Tompkins
Contributor

At some point, almost every first-year student will be asked the standard question: “What res do you live in?” Now, if you actually do live in residence in first year, this is as common and expected as you can get. However, answering, “I don’t live in res, I’m a FYNIR,” used to be a better guarantee of a vacant stare than anything else you could say during Orientation Week.

But FYNIRS (First Year Not In Residence Students), who have chosen to spend first year living at home or in a place of their own, are in good company. And over the past few years, FYNIRS’s enthusiasm for Orientation Week and other events throughout the year has made the Queen’s community much more aware of who we are and what we do. While “rezzies” are moving into their rooms, we provide a loud, spirited, welcoming intro to life at Queen’s for those who won’t be discovering the University with roommates or floormates.

FYNIRS doesn’t end with Orientation Week, though. Many FYNIRS I’ve known have remained close friends throughout their studies at Queen’s, and the group itself has remained an important one by which many still identify themselves.

For the past two years we’ve been working particularly hard to create an even more extensive support system for students who opt not to live in res first year. Some of us upper-year FYNIRS still live with our families, while others have struck out on our own in apartments or houses. We know what it can be like to start university without the introduction to services that those in residence have, and we want to make more of these things available to new FYNIRS at Queen’s.

Our events through the year are still developing but fun-filled, and they provide an excellent break from the daily grind of classes and assignments. We’ve also almost finished our new FYNIRS lounge in the lower JDUC, where FYNIRS can meet and gather between classes. Perhaps most significantly, though, we have a “don program” in the works for first year students living off-campus who don’t have that kind of peer support or guidance available.

—Jay Tompkins is the 2004 FYNIRS chair.

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