It’s arguably one of the ugliest spots on campus. It has four buildings all facing different directions for some bizarre reason, cracked sidewalks, and a bad reputation. When freshmen first drive up to their brand new home at UConn and discover they are going to be living in West Campus for the next year, it’s reasonable to see why their hearts sink. You can see why it’s nicknamed “The Projects,” but as a voluntary two-year resident of West Campus, I’ll tell you why it can also lovingly be called “Home.”
Let’s address the elephant in the room here. It’s the horror story of West, and scares students more than accidentally walking across the UConn seal in Fairfield Way. We’re talking about the West showers.
The moment every freshman cried.
Yes, it looks like a chain-gang shower, and no, you don’t have to suddenly be close enough to shower with your roommate on the first week of school. There’s no secret here, we just shower one person at a time and as long as everyone is considerate, there’s plenty of time for each person on the floor to have a turn. For those who are more comfortable with their roommates, it is actually possible to shower with a friend if the person who takes longer showers goes on the inside curtain. So hold back your tears, freshman, you still will have some semblance of privacy.
For the times you don’t want privacy and you’re looking for friends, West is the perfect place to bond with your building. There’s only three full floors in each building, and the lack of air conditioning forces everyone to prop open their doors in the first month of school, so you will quickly get to know everyone on all the floors and learn to love them like a family.
The coolest kids hang in the gazebo.
If you’re really looking for friends, the Holy Grail of bonding in West is the gazebo located right in the center of all the buildings. You’ll find people hanging out and doing homework there during the day, and drunkenly stumbling in for some funny conversation there during the night. This is the gathering place for students from every corner of West, so if you want to branch outside your building, it’s more than easy to meet others.
Once you’ve made all those awesome friends, you’ll find that the Hall Directors in West Campus are extremely gung-ho when it comes to planning events for the community. They kick off the year with “Floor Wars” where the West residence halls compete in minute-to-win-it style games in the hopes of scoring free pizza for the floor and bragging rights for the rest of the year. In the Spring, they close off the year with “West Fest,” which is a huge celebration with food, inflatables, and this year, a dunk tank. Between these events are all manners of Super Bowl celebrations, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show parties, and social gatherings in the Shakespeare/Troy TV lounge.
Musical chairs gets way more intense than you’d think.
The social life in West is poppin’, but the academics are even better. Students up in Garrigus or Busby struggle to get down to campus for their classes, but in West, you’re a 5-minute walk from most of the central-campus academic buildings. You can wake up with 15 minutes before your 8 am and still make it to class with 5 minutes to spare. While other students want to cry about having class in Arjona and Koons, West Campus residents are pretty well set in going to class almost anywhere. (Except Austin. Literally nobody should ever have to go to class in Austin.)
That’s about as close as it gets.
As if the close proximity to academic buildings wasn’t awesome enough, West also has the bonus of being in close range of two dining halls: McMahon or South. For those nights when McMahon’s menu is too foreign for your tastebuds, you can hop on over to South for some simple grilled cheese. When you’re feeling daring or McMahon is having something delicious like Indian bar, that’s an option too. And if neither of them are really appealing to you, the U is just up the road. You’re always going to have convenient food options if you live in West, which is essential for any college student.
It has a bad reputation, that’s for sure. It doesn’t have elevators or air conditioning, and the showers are just hallways with a curtain, but West has a lot to offer. The community is small and close-knit, the events are fun and vibrant, and the location is prime. And if none of that convinces you, at least you can enjoy all the groundhogs that scuttle around the quad.
Look at that little guy!
What do you love living in West? Tweet us your thoughts @UConnHC!