I jumped from my kitchen chair with a smile on my face when Yale’s Sorting Hat pronounced me a Berkeleyite. With a central location, the best dining hall and a master who even has his own Facebook group, Berkeley and I were meant to be together. But then I read the rest of the message: “Berkeley freshmen will be housed in Lanman-Wright.” Well, three weeks and a pre-orientation later, I have found many of the Lanman-Wright horror stories to be true.
Lanman-Wright, first nicknamed L-Dub by Piersonites in 1993, has many obvious problems which include but are not limited to dumpster trunks that wake up residents at 7 a.m., platoons of radioactive roaches crawling on the stairways and bathrooms and the periodic fire alarm going off in the middle of night. But despite the idiosyncrasies that might turn others off from L-Dub, I can’t imagine living anywhere else as a freshman.
Unlike the floors below it, L-Dub’s fifth floor is connected by a narrow hallway, which runs across all the entryways, connecting Berkeley and Pierson freshmen. Each fifth floor suite is one large single with no common room and unique features; some have built-in closets and others have varying features such as crawl spaces.
Despite lacking the Brooklyn- style living quarters of Durfee, the easy laundry room access of Farnam or the Chaplain’s office of Bingham, L-Dub does have many intangible comforts. In a Berkeley-wide statement last spring, Marvin Chun, Master of Berkeley College, said “The biggest benefit of L-Dub is the way it contributes to our sense of community. The exterior courtyard is a great place to hang out, and, more importantly, L-Dub is literally across the street from BK with the best dining hall at Yale.”
Some Berkeley Freshman Counselors, who lived in Vanderbilt their freshman year agree that L-Dub has advantages: It’s close to friends living in Berkeley and is more centrally located than Vandy. On rainy days in New Haven, living in L-Dub has been convenient for me. I can walk across the street and be on Cross Campus, go to the post office located right under L-Dub and meet my friends in the L-Dub courtyard.
When I find myself in L-Dub, I’m almost never in my room. There is always something to do, whether it is listening to a DJ mash-up in the third floor’s suite of musicians, partying on the fifth, or attending social events in the freshman counselors’ suites. We joke around that our subpar living situation is made up for by our sense of community. I can always find an open door and someone to welcome me on every floor of every entryway.
On the Saturdays, the freshman counselors’ suites are never short of study breaks, food or games of apples to apples. Freshmen can enjoy pretzel, sushi and chocolate fondue nights. Even coming back as late as 1 a.m., I never fail to find a late night snack. Perhaps this is true in every college’s freshman housing, but for L-Dub, where neighboring rooms are only a few floor tiles away, the invitation to step inside someone else’s suite is almost a siren song.
When I close my door, my fifth floor single turns into Bass Library, only with natural lighting. When I open it, my suite turns into an extension of the L-Dub courtyard, with people dropping in for any reason — whether they want to talk to someone or to watch a magic show before working on that D.S. essay. My door becomes a remote control for my privacy.
The entryway B restroom is adjacent to my room, and with only a thin plaster wall separating the two, on a normal day, I wake-up to either Katy Perry’s “TGI Friday” or the noise of staff fixing a loose door. Despite the immediate inconveniences, I always wake up either singing along or striking a conversation with people like Bill, who is the only mason left at Yale.
L-Dubbers are also known for their creativity. When the paint on your wall is peeling, you can only hope creativity will cover it up. Walk through entryway A, and you might see one of Lizz Cotzomi’s 152 square feet collages; entryway B and witness an ace of spades turn into an ace of hearts right in front of you; entryway C and listen to some of the most beautiful violin music anywhere on campus; or entryway D and post your secret on an index card on the third floor wall. L-Dub is an amazing place — just remember to bring some Raid.
Davis Nguyen is a freshman in Berkeley College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .