Choose wisely: your West Campus living options



Mariah Davis

It’s springtime. Second semester. You’ve just received the email informing you of your housing selection time. Got a good time? Great. You know where you’re going… right?

 Most sophomores, and those lucky freshmen with early selection times, are looking to finally enjoy the perks of living in an apartment on West Campus. It’s new, it’s exciting and everyone’s talking about it. “What foods will I cook in my kitchen?” “Which hall is the best?” “Should we do four singles or two doubles?” “We need to find another roommate so we can all stay together!”

It’s true that apartment residents enjoy a few added perks. Most notably, each apartment comes with a kitchen, which includes a refrigerator, microwave and sink. This gives students the option to cook their own food, instead of relying on Dining Services to provide them with enjoyable meals most nights. The kitchen also provides the option to not register for a meal plan. Many students save money this way by buying cheaper food at the grocery store throughout the year. 

They also include a bathroom, a half bath and a living room. For those squeamish about sharing a bathroom with the whole floor and feel crowded in a lounge, this is definitely a plus. It also helps to prepare students for life after college, particularly those who haven’t lived out of the house before attending the University.

The apartments on West are also different than other residence halls because each one houses four students. That makes it a better option for those that would like to live with more than one other person. It can be difficult to choose just one or two roommates when you have a larger group of friends. If you already have three close friends in mind, perhaps this is a good choice for you.

There is another option, though. West Campus is also home to St. Mary’s, generally known for its dining hall and its convenience store, 2nd Storey. Juniors and sophomores, and the occasional freshman or senior, have the option to live in St. Mary’s as an alternative to the apartment lifestyle.

In contrast to the apartments, rooms in St. Mary’s Hall are mostly singles with about five or six suites that include two doubles with a shared bathroom in between. Additionally, like Good Counsel Hall, each single includes a sink. So if you’re looking for some privacy or you just want to room with one friend, St. Mary’s is probably best. Residents of St. Mary’s Hall also enjoy the perks of living near the dining hall, which many students like William Escober-Arrillaga, a junior biochemistry major, consider to provide “higher quality food than the other dining halls.” It is also considered much quieter than other dining halls on campus, making it much easier for upperclassmen to enjoy a peaceful meal. While residents of St. Mary’s are required to have a meal plan, this option provides students with more free time throughout the week. Having a meal plan allows them to skip trips to the grocery store to buy food and they also live so close to the dining hall. Students also save money by staying on campus more often and registering for less expensive meal plans as the housing cost itself is much cheaper than that of the apartments.

St. Mary’s Hall is also the location of a few university services including the West Campus Mailroom and St. Mary’s printing station. The mailroom provides students with easier access to their VU boxes and packages, while the printing station is key to those students who don’t have printers on campus. If you’re a student who receives many packages or often needs a printing station for those last minute papers, St. Mary’s could be the hall for you.

However, some residents feel that the walls in St. Mary’s are paper-thin. “When you’re in your room, you can hear someone laughing from the other side of the hall,” Laura Meissner, a junior biology major and RA at St. Mary’s Hall, said. Additionally, St. Mary’s does not provide any substance-free zones, unlike the apartments, which provide a substance free floor in Moulden Hall. 

Still, Meissner also notes the many pros to living in St. Mary’s. For example, “The combination of upper and underclassmen is definitely a pro. I’ve seen a lot of sophomores going to their neighbors for advice because they’re in the same major and the juniors have another whole year of experience to share,” Meissner said. 

It’s also important to note that the apartments consist of many halls and your decision may be based on location. St. Mary’s is closer to Main Campus than some of the other dorms like St. Clare, but other dorms, such as Farley or Klekotka halls, are about the same distance.

So which is best? Where is the best place to live? The answer, of course, is that it’s different for each student. So take in account the pros and cons of each residence hall, and make your decision based on what’s most important to you.