Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dorm Rat

Dorm rooms haven’t changed much in the twenty-five years since I went to Tech. In fact, they are the same exact dorms. All the new dorms built for the 1996 Olympics are on other parts of campus. My son’s dorm is one of the campus's old WPA era projects that may have been updated once or twice since FDR was president, not that they look it.

Let’s take a look at what a modern dorm has or needs.

  1. Loft bed with linens. These dorm rooms are too small for all the furniture to fit. At about 14 feet by 10 feet, it is barely bigger than the room he had all to himself at home. Loft beds are the only way to fit everything in. All summer my wife lurked BigBoxOfSheets for all sorts of linens and towels and accessories. What you don’t see under this very stylish bedspread is the bedbug proof mattress cover that hermetically seals in all the bugs, mites, and cooties that may have been left behind by the previous resident.

  2. Three drawer dresser. This sub-Ikea dresser is meant to hold all the clothes that a modern college student needs. For my son that means several pairs of jeans, carpenter pants, and lots and lots of black ironic tee-shirts.

  3. Study Desk. As if this will ever get used. The drawers are stuffed with enough office supplies bought by my wife to last the entire four (or more) years. We got scissors, a stapler, printer paper, folders, binders, pens, pencils, and whatever else was in the back-to-school aisle of BigBoxOfOfficeSupplies.

  4. Flat Screen Television. We grabbed this off-brand 720p HDTV from BigBoxOfElectronics under the rationalization that he needed a larger screen than his laptop for the heavy detail number crunching that an engineering student has to do. While it seems to be a luxury, it cost less than the VCR I bought to tape Live Aid with (and that isn't even adjusting for inflation).

    Behind the dresser is a cable outlet that funnels over a hundred channels including ESPN, CNN, four HBOs, and nearly a dozen foreign language stations that I couldn’t even recognize. This is the biggest shock and change in dorm life that I have to wrap my head around. If I had that many entertainment choices when I was in college, I'm not sure I would have ever made it to class.

  5. Printer/Scanner. Something nobody had when I was in college. I had the old electric Smith-Carona that fit under the bed. Students now have more firepower on their desk than a Kinkos used to have.

  6. DVD. When I bought the big screen TV and surround system for my living room I had a leftover DVD player that I had bought for forty bucks a couple of years ago. Rather than toss it out, we’ve handed it down.

  7. Lamp. This one I will give my wife credit for. She found a five bulb lamp that has flexible heads so that the kid can illuminate the desk, the room, and the bed all from one central location. We even fitted it with compact fluorescents so that all that wattage doesn't turn the room into a sauna.

  8. Wardrobe. The dorm room has no closet, so all the big and bulky items have to fit in here. The left side is for hanging clothes which includes all the clothes he is unlikely to wear since they aren’t jeans or black ironic tee-shirts. The other side has shelves so that includes all his toiletries and personal items. On the bottom shelf is a tool set from BigBoxOfLumber that has enough weaponry in it for him to build a room within his room.

  9. Bookshelf. While my son was at band orientation, we ran out and picked up the items too big to haul from home. The bookcase came unassembled from BigBoxWithRedCircleOnIt. Took me about an hour to get it all put together and in place. Not seen in the picture is the several hundred dollars worth of textbooks that don’t even fill up the bottom shelf.

  10. Refrigerator. The dorm doesn’t allow anything bigger than 5 cubic feet. After doing comparison shopping at all the BigBoxes around town, we settled on this hundred dollar 3.2 cubic foot one that would seem capable of holding all the beer a college student should ever need.

  11. Storage Box. This was left behind as the empty holder of all the other junk we hauled down. Perhaps it will fill up with something else. Perhaps not.

  12. DVD Collection. My son took his pick of the family movies that he decided he wanted. Included in the list is Catch Me If You Can, The Matrix, Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, Accepted, School Of Rock, and Flight Of The Conchords. And I haven’t even watched all the episodes of Conchords.

  13. Water Jug. For marching band practice. It gets hot in the Georgia sun.

  14. Family Picture. To remind him what his parents look like.

  15. Movie Poster. You have to have a little wall flair for decoration. I prefer not to read too much into the selection of this particular movie.

  16. Big Comfie Chair. I expect this to be the second most used piece of furniture in the room.

  17. Proud Dad. What can I say?
What is missing from my days as a dorm rat is the big honkin' stereo. Those have been replaced by iPods with micro-speakers.

BlatantCommentWhoring: What else does a dorm need?


Anonymous said...

That's not a dorm room, that's a luxury apartment! My dorm was about the same size and I had to share with someone else. We didn't have loft beds, though we had the option of raising the beds to about twice their normal height for a little more storage space. There was also a wardrobe for each of us, two rather spare 3-drawer metal desks and a set of shelves over each desk. Plus a phone jack.

Our rooms were former BOQ for Camp Mitchell and were arranged 5 around a suite area, with 2 suites connected by the bath area. There was a small refrigerator in the suite, but anything in it was pretty much fair game. No TV anywhere in sight.

I decorated my (plywood) walls with Doonesbury and Oliphant cartoons cut out of the student paper. I also had a Selectric that came in a case. I had to type my Freshman Writing course papers on ditto masters and mimeograph 20 or so copies every week.

My roomy and I didn't have a stereo, but a couple of others in the suite did. Big honkin' speakers. Nothing like "All Along the Watchtower" blaring out loud enough to wake the dead after midnight.

Yeah, your son and his fellow residents should stay off my lawn.

yellojkt said...

This is a two-person dorm room. And he has to go down the hall to shave shower and shit. When he's a junior he can upgrade to a private bedroom with a bathroom in the dorm suite.

Anonymous said...

Yeh, my room at Adelphi wasn't much different from this. Also missing, however, are the contraband appliances.

Short story: I was carrying a toaster oven into the dorm. It was in a black plastic bag, but unbeknownst to me the power cord was hanging out. Naturally, I have to run into one of the RAs. She, knowing I was a Communications major and involved with the campus radio station, asked me if I was carrying a cassette deck. Naturally I agreed. (-:

I've also heard tales of students who put "rabbit ears" atop microwave ovens to disguise them as televisions.

Elizabeth said...

Does he have a phone in his room? I guess everyone has cell phones now, don't they. We only had a pay phone in the hall, it was a pain!

yellojkt said...

There's a phone jack and we took a phone down with us. But I have no idea if it ever got plugged in. We just call his cell when we need to harrass him.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Looks very similar to RIT. Hey, we're getting ready to send Brandon down to GA Tech in a few weeks for a tour. My nephew goes to school there.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks really claustrophobic. I never stayed in a dorm in college (apartments only), so I missed out on that experience. Part of me is sad about that.

I think #14 and #15 are switched. Kind of funny that way though.

Anonymous said...

Wow, dorm life. Can't be beat.

Where's the computer at?

yellojkt said...

The computer is a laptop as mandated by the school. Desktops are officially passe. It's a MacBookPro that cost more than any computer I have ever bought for myself.

2fs said...

Re your reference to "Kinko's": let us mourn its passing. It was bought out by FedEx a couple years back, and the stores were rebranded "FedEx Kinkos" (no apostrophe - I think they cost extra). Just the other day, though, I noticed one on my way to work: they've changed the name to "FedEx Office" or something like that. No longer any legacy of the odd dude from Michigan who decided in the '70s that "Kinko's" would be a good name for a business... I guess they took that one pretty far, though: it had a good run.

As for the dorm room: barring technological upgrades, this is astonishingly similar to the setup I had as a freshman at U of Michigan lo the many years (28! Julian H. Cope on a Crutch!) ago...