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The freshman living experience: a dorm-by-dorm breakdown

Sam Ergina, Arcade Editor

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For incoming freshmen, choice of housing for the first year at Tulane may appear to be a daunting decision. Despite what impressions have been made from students’ experiences, the truth of the matter is that the first-year dorm is not a big deal. There are mixed feelings about all of the options available, but there is truth in a trade-off that exists between ease of socializing and meeting new people, and quality of the rooms and facilities themselves. Here’s a breakdown of that trade-off and a guide to help future freshmen decide where to live for their first year at Tulane.

Monroe Hall and Sharp Hall

These dorms have a reputation for being the party residence halls. They’re supposedly the dorms where the first half of Tulane’s famous/infamous “work hard, play hard” motto is ignored. The rooms aren’t great, but they are a place predominantly for sleeping, leaving your belongings and not much else. A difference in design between the two is the shelves of Monroe and Sharp, the latter of which is located right above your bed and leads to more than one collision. Sharp, however has an advantage with its lesser number of floors. Sharp has seven floors with floors five through seven only having one hallway instead of the usual two. Meanwhile, Monroe has 12 floors with two hallways and only two elevators. Any day that calls for all the freshmen to go somewhere at the same time (like the fast approaching move-in day) will be a helluva lot more bearable for Sharp residents than for those living in Monroe. In either case, these dorms are the best for ease of social interaction and the worst for room quality.

Butler House

Despite its past classification as a dorm for honors students, it rivals Sharp and Monroe in both the social aspect of its halls and lack of cleanliness. The floors may actually be more conducive to meeting new people, as the rooms are arranged in a square, with a common room in the middle. In contrast, Sharp and Monroe have straight hallways, a single line with a common room in the middle. This means that Butler students are all pretty much equally close to the common room and it’s usually a hangout spot for students at all times in the day and night. Another difference between Butler compared to Monroe and Sharp is the demographics by floor. Butler floors are single sex and they alternate between the eight floors, while Monroe and Sharp have coed floors for the most part.

Josephine Louise Hall

Josephine Louise Hall, referred to as JL, is the only entirely single sex residence hall. Only female freshmen can live in this dorm and that comes with its pros and cons. There are only three floors and they are split between the two sides of the building labelled “even” and “odd.” There are no elevators and there’s only one common room that’s a large ballroom on the first floor. There are other rules, such as guys must be accompanied by a girl at all times when in JL. The dorm is also the farthest from the center of campus along with Greenbaum. All this being said, the rooms themselves are some of the nicest on campus besides the suite-style residence halls (which are coming up). The nice facilities and the solidarity the girls in JL form from going through freshman year isolated together builds camaraderie that most JL veterans appreciate in hindsight.

Paterson House

Paterson, like JL, is a smaller-sized dorm, but entirely coed. Also like JL, the rooms are high-quality compared to other freshman year living options with sinks in the room as opposed to Butler, Sharp and Monroe, where you have to go to the communal bathroom just to use a sink. Paterson also has a nice outdoor lounge area behind it that makes for a perfect study spot on the many beautiful days seen here in New Orleans.

Wall Residential College and Greenbaum House

These are the two newest residence halls built on campus for freshmen. The facilities are by far the nicest of any living option for first years and they come in a suite style instead of the usual dorm design. This means that instead of communal bathrooms, two rooms share a small bathroom to themselves. The downside to this suite set-up is the isolating effect it can have on residents of these dorms.

While Greenbaum residents share a big common room in the middle of the Butler-like designed floors, Wall’s common rooms are more towards the end of the floors. Freshman living in these halls, especially in Wall, do need to put more of an effort into meeting as many new people as freshman from other dorms meet. Wall has also been chosen to replace Butler as the Honors Residential Learning Community, so in living here students are likely to find similarly academic-minded dormmates. Students have compared Greenbaum to a hotel, whereas Wall has more of a motel feel to it. In both cases, as nice as the rooms you’ll live in will be, they will come at a cost.

Warren House

A dorm that is often overlooked, Warren is pretty underrated when it comes to freshman year living options. The rooms are nicer than Butler, Monroe and Sharp and because it’s less popular, it isn’t as overcrowded as some of the dorms could be at times. This is another dorm that, like JL, only has one main common room on the first floor, but there are always students there playing pool and ping pong, or doing homework at the desks. Warren is a good balance of the advantages that the other residence halls have. 

Remember that it’s important to branch out beyond whatever dorm you end up living in and appreciate your residence hall for its advantages instead of focusing on the negatives. Whether where you live turns into your main social circle, or a place that’s only use is a bed to sleep in and a bathroom to shower in, the freshman residence hall holds only as much influence on your college experience as you allow it to.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
The freshman living experience: a dorm-by-dorm breakdown