Housing is part of what makes Yale unique. Some enjoy the ambiance of residential college living for all four years, others bolt off campus as soon as they can. Every spring, the colleges start buzzing with plans for the next year. Who is rooming with whom? Which is the hippest and jivest of the off-campus streets? We’ve gathered some stories about and reflections on the highs and lows of Yale housing.
Ahh the housing process at Yale! While rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are Game of Thrones fans will best understand the parallels between Yale during (what other, more hospitable regions call) spring, and their favorite HBO show’s milieu, even those disinclined towards swords and dragons eventually learn the true meaning of Ned Stark’s fateful words, “Winter is coming.”
It starts out innocently enough, with a, “Hey, have you thought about housing next year?” to which you inevitably respond, “No, not really yet,” a boldfaced lie. You’ve been thinking about this since that time this past fall when your suitemate tried steaming his shirts in the bathroom—by simply shutting all the windows and doors and turning on the sink as hot as it could go (<3 NBH). No, this time you’re going to assemble the perfect, steam-free suite, and nobody is going to stop you.
But wait! It’s not so simple: your serpentine “friends” have been lying in the weeds of group chats, waiting until forms are due to finally strike; they are the Sand Snakes of Dorne vying for the Iron Throne you covet. And so you shift your allegiances accordingly. Now, what was a coalition of five becomes eight becomes six, and you pray to the Old Gods and the New (last one, I promise) that no one gets wise about the spacious closets in entryway O.
All in all, everyone gets through the housing process alive. But if one round proves more than enough for you, you may also brave the other side of your college’s Wall (promise broken), though there’s no telling if you’ll ever make it back.
Suitemate A received a Nerf gun for Secret Santa and would lie on a futon taking target practice at us whenever we walked into the room. One day, suitemate B opened the door and took a bullet right in the chest. Unfortunately for him, his reflex to protect his vital organs ended up injuring him more, since he was carrying two cups of coffee (he has an addiction). While a foam cylinder might not hurt, spilling two pints of hot liquid all over oneself definitely does.
B may have suffered minor burns from the coffee, but it was tea that broke his heart. One night, suitemate C was brewing some tea in the electric kettle that, in our great foresight, was left on the floor in the middle of the common room. When C walked by on his way back to his room, he kicked the kettle over, spilling hot tea all over B’s laptop, which of course was plugged into the same power strip on the floor. Suitemate B, summoned by some tug at his heart, rushed into the room to see C stooped over his steaming laptop. So began one of the great love stories of our time. After reviving the laptop with cooling tears, B realized that, with its battery damaged by the tea, his beloved laptop only functioned when plugged into its charger. For months, B could be seen cradling his laptop at the one place on the futon that his charger could reach. He doted over that laptop, wrapping tape over his charger plug to keep the IV in place. He never gave up.
—Luke Chang YH Staff
I’m big on conflict avoidance: that’s why I’m terrified of strategy games and Black Friday. My suitemates’ two favorite things, however, are strategy games and Black Friday. So most of my suitemates will name last year’s housing draw as our greatest accomplishment at Yale—depending on who you ask, it’s possible that time slowed down, inspirational victory-lap music played, and game theory was finally proven to have useful applications.
Berkeley sophomores are offered a variety of suites ranging widely in their shittiness. Our dream was a first floor sextuplet—a trivially-designated “quiet” suite with two singles and an incredible square footage-per-inhabitant ratio. With our low lottery number, we were realistically looking at cozy three-double suites or a fourth floor rectangle of dimly-lit gloom next to the Dean’s Apartment, undesired despite its four singles. But after intense intel gathering and more than one frantic chart, we realized there was a way. All we had to do was convince another suite to choose either a triple-double or the Gloom Room.
How do you get six freshmen boys—our targets—to opt for the shittier suite, and think they did it voluntarily? 1. Deploy the “screaming” newborn living in the Fellows’ Suite above the spacious first floor option 2. Lament the supposed horrors of living in a quiet suite (silence 24/7 and no suspicious smells!) 3. Marvel over how the triple-double suites are nice enough to warrant having a roommate again 4. Do all of this so coolly that you don’t expose your game. I didn’t excel at this (“man, you’d have to be really careful about odors” is something I tried to say casually), but my suitemates thrived. By decision night, I watched six freshmen boys—unwitting puppets in a much bigger game—confidently choose one of the triple-doubles. My suite couldn’t suppress our cheers. Some teared up. Housing was a DIY crash course in Grand Strategy that gave me an ulcer and sent my suitemates on a power trip (from which they’ve yet to fully come down). We’re still adrift for housing this year, since BK’s annexing is still unannounced, but I’ve decided to ignore my imminent ulcers and let my Machiavellian suitemates figure it out.
—Nicole Mo YH Staff
For me, the idea of “home” is not so much a building as a sense, a group of people, a collection of memories, a feeling that you hold within yourself. To my parents’ great frustration, I started referring to my dorm room as “home” a couple weeks after I arrived at Yale, and I’m even quicker to call a hotel or borrowed couch “home” when on vacation. Home base, maybe, is closer to what I mean when I talk about places, and I thought that would be particularly true during college—moving every year, straddling two coasts, and generally feeling rootless, in a good way.
When I moved into my apartment, I grounded my college life in a particular space and combined that sentimental home with a physical reality. A friend told me that moving off-campus made her feel like a person who goes to classes as part of her life rather than a student. I entirely agree—coming home to this apartment lifts my actual life out from a primarily school-focused mindset, which I can slip off with my shoes at the door. Home is still the moments, but now the moments are making poached eggs as snow falls outside my window, building myself a dresser, and carving pumpkins with friends to put on my fire escape. The collection of the objects in this apartment, whether from my summer trips to IKEA or my roommate’s aunt’s storage unit, provides a physical record of the things I care deeply about and tells the story of the life I’ve built.
—Claire Goldsmith YH Staff
I’m so excited to start my college experience. What I’m most excited for about coming to Yale is my future suite and residential college life. Though my uncle was in Davenport, and my sister was in Berkeley, I’m going to get sorted into the college I’m destined for, just like they do at Hogwarts—I know Northwestern says their library looks like Hogwarts, but Yale’s architecture is the most magical of all.
When I toured, the tour guide told me that 84 percent of students live on campus, but that’s because 50 percent of the student body, freshmen and sophomores, have to live on campus! I did the math (the only math I’m gonna do at Yale! I hear econ counts as a “QR”) and it turns out that only 68 percent of juniors and seniors live on campus. But I don’t understand why anybody would move off campus. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a gym, laundry room, and buttery below me. I won’t mind if I get a room on a high story—it’ll just a bit of extra exercise, how bad could it be?
I don’t want to live on Old Campus my freshman year, because my sister told me that “L-Dub” sucks, and there’s no air conditioning. A top-tier university like Yale has got to have top-tier climate control. And I also hear that bad things happen to Saybrook College. That’s why I really hope I get one of the new colleges. If I had to pick, it would be Franklin College because the abbreviation is gonna be FC, and then we can get sweet jerseys for our IM teams that just say FC on them and mess with people who are wondering what the team name actually is. The New Colleges are also in a great location—only 15 minutes from the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, where my sister used to study before she became a Political Science major. It would also be so sick to have a view of the graveyard from my window—talk about tradition!
—An earnest prefrosh who wants to be in Franklin College