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UCSC is home to ten residential colleges: Merrill/Crown, Cowell/Stevenson, College 9/John Lewis, Porter/Kresge, and Rachel Carson/Oakes. All of them hold wonderful qualities that make each one of them special. Rachel Carson and Oakes are great places to go if you want to find a more woodsy vibe to live out your cottagecore aesthetic (be on the lookout for mountain lions though). Porter and Kresge are for the party goers and artsy folx who are unabashedly creative and outgoing (any Porter affiliate will give you a tarot reading and ask for your astrology signs). College 9 and (newly named) John Lewis colleges are the places to go if you’re in the mood for a late night meal with friends and you want to eat at their dining hall (if the fire alarms don’t go off). Cowell and Stevenson are the colleges to go to if you want to bench out your bad vibes at the OPERS gym, throw a frisbee across the grass field, or just sit and stare at our beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Crown college is where you’ll find the gamers, of course. If you walk past their dorms late at night, the light from the laptops of Computer Science majors will guide you as they finesse their way of completing a two-week project in two days. 

Merrill though? It seems like a lot of people have a lot to say about Merrill. Unfortunately, they’re not good things. Inspired by Co-Chapter Leader, Alexa Manning, I decided to collect responses from Merrill residents during Community Outreach (RA thing where I walk through the residential halls) and feedback from the answers written on my whiteboard attached to my door. Here’s some responses I’ve gathered:

“The Hill!”

Cardiac Hill has been making Merrillites’ calves great since 1968! Merrillites are so chill because we’re too tired to party by the time we get here. Falling from exhaustion on the Merrill lawn allows you to look up at our blue skies. It’s also nice to have a restaurant worth climbing the hill for—go Vivas!

“No dining hall on the weekends/closes earlier at 8pm”

True, but it makes me feel better about eating as many meals as I want by the time I end up either at the Cowell/Stevenson or College 9/John Lewis dining hall. Also, this is why Merrillites are able to get along with other affiliates; it’s because we’re forced to eat at other people’s dining halls! It gives us the opportunity to meet new people and find more friends! It’s also good exercise. If we didn’t have to go to other dining halls, I’m sure most people would just stay up on the hill forever. 

“Cold showers”

The water is cold anywhere on campus. Pro tip: shower early in the morning so you can be the first one to get hot water!

“Blackouts” 

All of UCSC gets power outages along with Santa Cruz and some parts of the SF Bay Area. It’s just a rite of passage. You’re not a UCSC student until you’ve experienced a PG&E power outage right at the moment you were about to turn in a homework assignment. Even then, they never last that long and just in case you need to charge your electronics, go to College 9/John Lewis to steal their energy from their back-up generators. 

“No stable internet” 

Yes, Merrill is one of the colleges that has Legacy Wired Access, which means that in some locations here there isn’t access to ResWifi. But, let’s be honest—ResWifi sucks and having your own router is better. Some buildings still have eduroam which is way better anyway!

“No plastic bags” 

This is done to cut back on waste as it’s a part of our Campus Sustainability plan (that students advocated and voted for) which encourages the implementation of policies across the UC system to be more sustainable. This includes dialing back on providing plastic trash bags and using paper towels. Merrill is actually one of the only colleges to still get plastic bags and paper towels, so we have a lot of work to do in order to reach our goals of being more environmentally friendly! 

“Socially dead (Sterile Merrill)” 

Interesting fact: Merrill is called sterile because in the late sixties and early seventies, there was a lot of drug use involving needles which weren’t so sterile. Merrill had to do some cleaning both brand wise and literally, as there were needles in the ravine behind the residential dorms that needed to be cleaned up. The past staff at Merrill might have girlbossed too close to the sun because now people think that we’re a college that’s boring/unexciting when that’s beyond the truth. 

Merril is feral, not sterile! We’ve got some wild coyotes here (both literally, but also metaphorically speaking for the character of our students). There are always fun events going on that are planned by the Merrill Programs and Leadership Office and Merrill Activities Council from Merrill Student Government. Also, everybody at Merrill is nice, so don’t be shy, say hi! Try to get out of your shell and talk with others. Socialization involves effort on your part too!

“I’ve got to go on a trip just to get a vacuum”

Vacuums are always near the entrance of the doors or at the end of the hall. If you really don’t want to walk, just do what I do and buy a handy dandy handheld vacuum cleaner to keep for yourself in your dorm. 

“Haunted”

UCSC is on indigenous land, holding bones that need to be given back to the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, so, of course, this school is haunted. As long as you’re respectful towards the spirits and you acknowledge the land you’re on as well as its ancestors, the ghosts will leave you alone. 

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As someone who picked Merrill as my first choice, it always breaks my heart hearing about how much people hate it here. I, for one, am so appreciative everyday for the beautiful redwoods behind me and the KZSC radio station just two minutes away from my dorm. The Pottery Co-Op, Cantu Queer Center, and events at the Merrill Cultural Center are one-of-a-kind community spaces! No other college has Buster the Cat at the Chadwick garden! There are so many cool things to do here and so many more cool people to meet. Don’t let gossip or rumors about Merrill cloud its true image.

Hello! My name is Theresa Bostic but I also go by DJ Terbear for my radio show, "The Shuffle" which plays on Sundays from 2-4pm on KZSC, UCSC's campus radio station. As an undergradute at UCSC, I'm double majoring in History and Sociology with a minor in Black Studies. I love making new friends, baking, hiking, and watching video essays on YouTube.
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