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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Life in the dorms provides resources, involvement

Alex Kulpinski
Photo Illustration by Alex Kulpinski / Arizona Daily Wildcat

For many incoming freshmen, getting tossed into a residence hall fresh out of high school can be an overwhelming experience, but maintaining a friendly and open-minded attitude can make all the difference in determining an on-campus living experience.

The UA has 23 residence halls collectively capable of housing nearly 7,000 undergraduate students. The Residence Life program itself has several resources that help make life in the dorms a communal experience, including several resident assistants in every hall and the university’s own Residence Hall Association.

Each resident assistant, or RA, lives in the residence hall they serve and is meant to provide assistance to students living within the hall, according to Kristin Mefford, a nutritional sciences junior who served as an RA in the Kaibab-Huachuca residence hall last year.

“Basically, we are in charge of making sure that the residents have a good community while they’re living in their dorms,” Mefford said, adding that hosting several community-building events throughout the year is what Residence Life is “all about.”

Additionally, the RHA allows students to join a committee of residents within their hall and participate in similar community-focused activities. The student-run organization works to provide services to each hall by allocating money and working with representatives from each dorm, according to Anthony Salas, the association’s vice president of public relations and a sophomore studying political science.

“The needs of, say, a dorm like Arbol de la Vida, where I have lived, is not going to be the same as Arizona-Sonora, which is right across the street,” Salas said. “(The association) does give the opportunity for people to come and share those experiences because it can be difficult sometimes living on campus and there’s a lot of great things about it also.”

In addition to the sources of involvement and support within the residence hall community, many students who live on campus say there are other benefits to dorm life.

“It’s convenient,” said Bernardo Jimenez, a junior studying astronomy and physics who lived in Posada San Pedro residence hall his freshman and sophomore years. “You can roll out of bed 10 minutes before class starts and still make it on time.”

For others, the people they met and lived with was what made living on campus worthwhile.
“I would say the benefits are that you get to be in close proximity with so many different people that you share interest with and you share classes with,” said Alex Chang, a biochemistry sophomore who lived in Arbol de la Vida and will be an RA in Manzanita-Mohave residence hall this upcoming year. “That way you have the great opportunity to meet a lot of people who you can study with or socialize with.”

In terms of academics, several students said that spending the first semesters of college on campus is what likely helped them get good grades, adding that they may not have done as well had they not lived in a dorm. According to the Residence Life website, freshmen living on campus have a grade point average that is 11.8 percent higher than those living off campus, and living on campus for at least one year gives a student a 46 percent higher chance at graduating.

Scotty Thompson, a sophomore studying history and political science, said he earned perfect grades this year, and that living on campus was likely a major factor.

“I was just so close to class and I could just walk back to my dorm and immediately do homework,” Thompson said. “There’s not a disconnect between where you’re living and where you’re learning.”

Although the dorms have many things to offer to residents, some students said that there are a few drawbacks. According to Jimenez, the cost to living on campus is nearly double the cost of living in an apartment near the university. Jimenez also said that there is always less privacy in a dorm room than an apartment.

Thompson agreed, adding that with an RA constantly monitoring the hall, it feels like someone is always watching.

“It’s basically like you’re living there and you have chaperones the whole time, even though we’re like adults,” he said. “You’re afraid to basically do things because you don’t want to get yelled at or get caught. My specific RA wasn’t very overbearing, but I know a lot of other people’s were.”
In terms of advice for incoming dorm-bound freshmen, many residence hall veterans said the same thing: Keep an open mind.

“Be open to everything,” Jimenez added. “It’s not the end of the world if you have a messy roommate or something small like that. It’s a learning experience, and it’ll benefit you in the long run.”

Learning the lingo can be half the battle when moving to a new place. Here are some common nicknames for several of the UA’s residence halls.

  • Arbol de la Vida: “Arbol”
  • Arizona-Sonora: “AZ-So”
  • Colonia de la Paz: “La Paz”
  • Coronado: “Nado”
  • Kaibab-Huachuca: “Ka-Hu” or “Kaibab”
  • Manzanita-Mohave: “Manzi-Mo”
  • Posada San Pedro: “PSP”
  • Pueblo de la Cienega: “Cienega”
  • Villa del Puente: “VDP”
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