How other school's campuses compare to Smith College
Published: Thursday, February 11, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 17:05
After what felt like a never-ending break, it was nice to return to the familiarity of Smith - the same dining hall dinners, living room banter and late nights spent talking with friends about everything from crushes to irrational midnight food cravings. Smith has become my home over this past semester, and while I sometimes take it for granted, visiting some of my friends' colleges and hearing about their experiences has caused me to reevaluate my opinions about Smith. I don't simply like Smith; I am in love with it.I recently visited my friend who attends Boston University, and she gave me a tour of her dorm and explained to me how her school works. Boston University is located in the middle of Boston with a subway, easily accessible to students, running through the school. The rides, however, are not included in student tuition, which makes me thankful that we do not have to pay to take the PVTA.
When I entered her dorm, we went up a couple of escalators to get to the main floor, where I had to give my ID to a security guard behind a window, who then informed me that I would not get my card back until I left the building. Imagine having a hired guard constantly checking on our guests at all times. It would be frustrating to say the least, especially for students who have guests over that stay the entire weekend or longer.
Next, we went up about six or seven floors in a large industrial-looking elevator to get to her floor, which reminded me of a combination between a prison, a mental hospital and a hotel. The hallways were white and narrow, lined with door after door leading to identical dorm rooms - or rather, boxes.
To enter the room you swipe your key, and you must remember that the door locks every time you exit the room. I find it a relatively common phenomenon for Smithies to leave their doors unlocked. Smith is a very trusting environment, and students typically respect their peers' space, making locked doors unnecessary.
The dorm room itself was a mirror image, each student getting a closet, bed and desk/bookshelf combo, which is less furniture than we get at Smith, not to mention that the physical size of her room could easily fit within my current double with plenty of space to spare. My friend also informed me that the wall lights in the rooms were the same as the lighting used to illuminate the subway stops around Boston. If that doesn't scream industrial, I don't know what does.
When I returned to Smith after my visit, I felt like hugging my living room furniture, piano included, and all my housemates, who probably number fewer than the people living on my friend's floor. I do not understand how students can willingly trade in the luxuries of a beautiful, spacious campus in a small city for an industrial-hotel in a big one. Sure, the city has its perks, but is it worth living in a box?
Over break, I visited a friend who attends the University of California-Davis, a large state school in the middle of nowhere in northern California. I was overwhelmed by the physical size of the campus, which happens to be a biking school. It feels as though bike lanes outnumber sidewalks, and there is a constant flow of people moving in and out of office-like buildings. The older dorms look similar to Cutter-Ziskind, except the rooms are markedly smaller. I like that the buildings at Smith are gorgeous and full of history. While the appearance of buildings might seem unimportant, I feel that it helps give off a general vibe for the campus. When you aren't sure if the building you are entering has classrooms or accounting offices, the vibe isn't great.
I ate in the dining commons when I was at Davis, and the experience reminded me of an unhealthy version of Sweet Tomatoes, or some other buffet-style restaurant. Everyone eats in a giant room, with different stations set up for the usual pasta, burger, pizza, salad, sandwich and dessert bars.
While the food was not too terrible, after eating in that dining hall I realized that I really do like the way Smith has its dining system set up. It is nice to have the ability to mix up my week and eat dinner in different houses. Also, Smith really does have a plethora of vegan, vegetarian and healthy options beyond those of most other schools. Even though Smithies often complain about dining hall food, we secretly know that we do have some of the best options.
Aside from class sizes, which are most likely larger at bigger schools, one of the obvious differences between the other schools mentioned and Smith is our lack of biological testosterone, which to me is a plus.
Smithies also have classes taught by professors, not teaching assistants, ResLife that actually care about their housemates and an unparalleled environment of intelligent, socially conscious students ready to take on the world. While some claim that Smith is a sheltered bubble or a warped view of reality, I don't care. College is just four years, so we might as well live it up in a spacious, beautiful setting, and I cannot think of a better place to do this than at Smith.