Laurel Hall: the target destination for just about every incoming freshman. With the promise of suite-style living in a building that was opened in 2015, what’s not to love? Laurel has private bathrooms (unlike Scott), accessible room prices (unlike Levine) and proximity to SoVi (unlike Hunt); compared to the other dorms of South Village, just about every incoming freshman is sold from the get-go. For the parents, however, it is the promise of washing machines on every floor and the fact that it is a freshman only dorm — meaning no alcohol — that they hope will keep their children out of trouble. Despite all of the benefits of living in Laurel Hall, anyone who has lived here for more than two weeks knows it isn’t the “city upon a hill” that everyone makes it out to be. Between the loud road behind us, “suspicious odors” lingering around the second floor and poor attempts at building community between the residents, Laurel Hall is overall not worth the hype.
Laurel Hall’s first red flag revealed itself on move-in day when I managed to lock myself and my roommate out of our room. I wasn’t too concerned initially. After all, what is the worst thing that could happen? All I had to do was walk upstairs, pay a surcharge (a blatant scam for money) and get a loaner key. That is when my roommate told me I had to walk to Hunt for the loaner key. The first thought that crossed through my mind was “it’s hot as hell outside” followed by the realization that I had locked myself out with no shoes on. So there I was: scalding my feet, walking up the hill to Hunt, trying to make my lack of shoes less obvious to the swarm of other people moving in. As inconvenient as this was, it isn’t even the tip of the iceberg compared to all of the other drawbacks of Laurel.
Besides the overall lack of friendliness amongst the dorm residents, not much happened until the first Friday of being on campus. It was around midnight and I was just getting into bed when my roommate sat upright in bed like she was possessed, looked me dead in the eye and said, “I smell weed.” Initially I didn’t think there was any way someone would smoke in their room before we had even lived on campus for a full week. But sure enough, when I went into the common area, the smell was lingering around the room like someone had drop-kicked a skunk. I cracked the door open — not only was the smell even stronger in the hallway, but one of our RAs was on her hands and knees smelling underneath one of the doors down the hall. When she stood back up, she nodded and started dialing a number on her phone. The next week, everyone in our dorm received an email entitled “Suspicious Odor” and went on to talk about how the blame can only be put on a few individuals but how we need to “respond to and report any behavior that could be harmful or disruptive to other members of our community,” and to help make “Laurel Hall one of the best places to live!” Now, to each their own, but the next time someone decides to hotbox their room — please crack a window at the very least.
While no dorm filled with 400 people can ever be expected to be truly quiet, you would think that Laurel’s seemingly secluded location behind all the other dorms might make it pretty serene. But people inside the building have no volume filter. There is constant noise around you all the time. I swear the ceilings and floors must be made of tissue paper. However, that isn’t where the noise stops. With Laurel backing up to trees, no one seems to remember that there is a road right on the other side of them until a fire truck goes by. At any hour of the day, we are subject to hearing every siren go zipping down the road to the scene of an emergency. So far the record of sirens in one day has been four, but I do think I have started tuning them out so it could very well be more. Along with the sirens, you also have to deal with the various people who think it is fun to rev and backfire their piece of crap cars all the way down Cameron Blvd. or Alumni Lane.
To sum everything up: Laurel Hall is just as basic as all the other dorms. Sure, we are a newer building, but if that is really your top priority, Levine is a year newer than Laurel and they are going to IKEA to play hide and seek as a “get to know your neighbor” activity. Laurel had an ice-cream social. Sure, there was Neapolitan ice cream and maraschino cherries, but we ran out of whipped cream and, come on, hide and seek at IKEA?? That seems like a bit more of a win to me. One good thing that happened in Laurel was a Halloween decoration put out in the hallway on the second floor that was fondly referred to as DIP (Demon in Pain). DIP was a skeleton wearing a 49er T-shirt, a floppy hat and had a chalice for offerings sitting at his brown boot-covered feet. By the end of the day he had several more decorations given to him by his loyal following. Unfortunately for DIP, he was deemed a fire hazard and had to be removed after one day. I guess Laurel Hall just couldn’t handle having something that was cooler than ice cream and Smash-Bros.