All dorms may not be created equal, but most of their denizens seem to be equally happy with their situations.
From the hyper-modern comfort of Manzanita Village to the pocket-sized coziness of San Miguel Residence Hall, most students say they enjoy their brand of dorm life. Manzanita residents appreciate the spacious rooms and updated amenities. Students in the more traditional dorms like the closer social atmosphere and say they do not see a significant advantage to living in Manzanita.
Manzanita Village, which opened its doors in Fall 2002, is the newest housing on campus, but what separates it from the housing across the lagoon is not its age, but its design. Unlike the older residence halls, which organize their students into units of halls or floors, Manzanita groups roughly the same number of students into one of 17 separate buildings.
Despite the hoariness of San Miguel or San Nicolas Halls and the amenities of Manzanita Village – such as a pool – most students say the traditional residence halls provide a better social atmosphere than Manzanita.
“We have people from Manzanita coming here [to Santa Cruz Hall] wishing that they lived here,” freshman sociology major Sean Herron said. “People hang out here until 5 in the morning.”
The social scene at Manzanita is not dead, but students say separating students into buildings and having different keys to each building inhibits social interaction.
“You have to work harder to be social here,” said freshman psychology major Megan Mihalic, who lives in Manzanita Village.
Avanti Bakane is an RA for the Condor House in Manzanita Village and said it is better for freshmen to live in one of the other on-campus residence halls because “there’s just more community over there.”
But not all students think bigger is better when it comes to social intercourse. Matt Kradle, a freshman business economics major who lives in Manzanita’s Cuyama House, said the Manzanita setup is less intimidating.
“You get to mingle with 40 or 50 kids, get really close to them and just branch out, whereas if you’re in Anacapa or some of the other dorms with just one big building, it just seems overwhelming to meet everyone in the dorm.”
In fact, the only universally agreed upon downside of the older accommodations, judging by student reaction, is the food.
“Now I like that all the rooms are closer and that there are more people, but I’m upset about the difference in dining between Carrillo and Ortega [Dining Commons],” said Ashley Peterson, a freshman communication major living in Santa Cruz Hall. “It’s night and day. I have to get five things on my tray and maybe one thing will be edible. We go to Carrillo on Fridays and Saturdays and gorge ourselves for the rest of the week.”
Charles Stoicu, a sophomore business economics major and San Rafael Hall resident, agrees.
“It comes back to the dining, basically,” he said. “Carrillo is great, Ortega is horrible.”
Students who notice the disparity in housing facilities take it in stride. Freshman political science major Jeff Archiplay, who lives in San Miguel, prefers to think of the future.
“The chair is falling apart. The bedposts are rickety, and there are stains on the carpet. This is one of the smallest rooms in the hall. The plus side is every room I stay in after this one will seem huge,” he said.
For other students, the present is enough.
“We have a hall, people and food. It’s not much different,” said freshman pre-communication major Josephine Vu, a Santa Cruz Hall resident. “We’re from L.A., so this is luxury living.”