As posted by your truly at RevGalBlogPals:
Yesterday I returned my middle child for his second year of college. He's an experienced dorm resident, having spent two years at a boarding high school. In the lounge at the end of his floor I found a suite of This End Up furniture that took me back to my years in the Theta house at William and Mary. I remember polishing that furniture with my sorority sisters every spring, just before we headed off for Beach Week at Nags Head.
(That's me on the right, overdressed for housework.0
Mindful that many others are heading off to further schooling or delivering their loved ones to the institutions that provide it, here are five questions about dorm life.
1) What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you went away to school for the first time?
The phone! What a shock to have to share the hall phone. I know it was possible to have a private phone in our rooms, but that year I didn't have one. I still have dreams occasionally of being in Williamsburg and not being able to get in touch with my friends.
2) We live in the era of helicopter parents. How much fuss did your parents make when you first left home?
Since I only went across town, not much. I used to take my laundry to my dad's office (he was Dean of the Law School); he would take it home to my mother. Actually, that's what she eventually made a fuss about…so that ended when I moved to a dorm the next year that had more convenient laundry facilities.
3) Share a favorite memory of living with schoolmates, whether in a dorm or other shared housing.
Sophomore year I lived in a dorm that was also an academic honors program called Project Plus. Sort of by accident I ended up living on a hall with girls who were also in the sorority I had joined at the end of freshman year, and they became my closest friends for the rest of college, along with some of the boys who lived on the other side of the stairwell. I learned to play bridge that year, received the confidence of the first (not the last) of boys I liked who turned out to be gay, and it's possible there was some petty larceny of traffic cones collected as a tribute to our friend Connie, otherwise known as Cone, for Connie Conehead of SNL fame. Those cones traveled in my Ford Pinto, formed a line in the hall outside Connie's room, and even rested for a time in my parents' garage. Yes, the purloined cones hid out at the Deanery, as my friends called my parents' house, site of numerous bridge tournaments and one pre-Pledge Dance party where someone set the couch on fire, though I swear that was one of my little brother's friends. (He was a freshman then.) My story was doubted until my father discovered my brother's friend had been implicated in a trashcan fire at their dorm. Anyway, I loved my Project Plus friends, and I'm happy to know some of them on Facebook again.
4) What absolute necessity of college life in your day would seem hilariously out-of-date now?
That's easy. The landline. I got one for #1 Son his first semester at Wesleyan, hoping he could avoid my experience, only to discover all the calls he needed to make were long-distance, because we live in a 10-digit world. I got him a cell phone as soon as possible.
5) What innovation of today do you wish had been part of your life in college?
I've already talked enough about phones, so I'm going to say laptop computers. Oh, how I labored over my papers! I was an English and History double major. I typed and hand-wrote a LOT of papers. How much easier would it have been to use a computer!!!
Bonus question for those whose college days feel like a long time ago: Share a rule or regulation that will seem funny now. Did you really follow it then?
William and Mary had maintained some visitation rules almost up to the time I got there in 1978 as an innocent, barely 17-year-old,but by then each dorm took a vote about whether to have 24/7 visitation, and I can't remember one that didn't allow it. It was after college that I lived in a women's residence in New York called The Roberts House, run by the Ladies' Christian Union, and that place had rules! They maintained a "beau parlor," and no men were allowed any further in than those two front rooms, and only up to a certain hour in the evening (10? 11? I cannot remember). All this meant was that girls maintained an address there while living with their boyfriends. Not me, of course, but some of them did. They've since closed the Roberts House, but the organization still exists to give housing grants to young women pursuing higher education in New York City.