Behind the dorm room door

It’s hard enough being a college freshman, having to endure awkwardness, loneliness and disorientation, not to mention dorm food and the sudden demotion from high school veteran to college rookie. Add to this the task of cramming one’s belongings into a room no bigger than a glorified closet and sharing said closet with a complete stranger, and it’s a wonder dorms stay in business.

Fortunately, the college freshman is a resilient and resourceful creature, and those at Fort Lewis College are no exception. Given, in some instances, a mere 180 square feet, two twin beds, two desks and two stand-alone closets that resemble freestanding cupboards, they are assigned the daunting task of creating a habitable space that must serve as sleeping quarters, study, dressing room, makeshift kitchen, entertainment center and personal refuge.

How do they do it? To find out, two intrepid Telegraph staffers dared to go where no reporters or photographers have gone before (or at least admitted to it) – the freshman dorms. As expected, we found a few of the universal, timeless themes – hot pots, ramen and posters. We also found that approaches to dorm room décor were as varied as the students we talked to, from minimalist to pack rat; neat freak to clutter hound; pop-culture junkie to outdoors enthusiast, and everything in between.

Heather, from Colorado Springs, poses with her Mini Me.

Roomie 1: Heather M., Colorado Springs
Major: business
Roomie 2: Rebecca Whitehead, Cortez
Major: anthropology
Design approach: Just the basics
Room size: 12-by-16 feet

Rebecca Whitehead, a freshman anthropology major from Cortez, unloads her recent stash  from a Walmart run.Design problems and solutions: “It’s tight-fitting,” said Heather of the room’s shortcomings. The roommates have considered several options to the space dilemma, including one that may not be so popular with the R.A.
“We considered sleeping on top of the closets,” said Rebecca.
However, until they can figure out how to rig up such a system, the girls plan to make do with the traditional side-by-side bed set up or may ante up the $137 for the loft beds.
Food stash: Supply of ramen, Wheat Thins and Tostitos
Personal touches:
Heather: Doll with long, curly red hair; “It’s a mini-me.”
Rebecca: Collage of male models in close proximity to female models, who seem to have had their heads superimposed with someone who looks suspiciously similar to Rebecca.

Emily Batcheler, a freshman from New Hampshire, shows off the bruised ankle she sustained mountain biking while relaxing in her canvas camping chair.Roomie 1: Lindsay Carron, Montrose
Major: journalism
Roomie 2: Emily Batcheler, New Hampshire
Major: biology
Design approach: Neatnik meets beatnik.
Room size: 12-by-16 feet
Design problems and solutions: Thanks to a philosophy that would make Martha proud, Lindsay said she had little trouble finding space for all her belongings.

“I just like to be really neat. It’s about making your corner of the universe perfect,” said Lindsay. “I actually felt like I had more room than I needed. I brought everything.”

Likewise, Emily, didn’t hold back on her cross-country journey, having loaded down her family’s truckster with belongings. “I put stuff on top of the car; everywhere,” she said. While Lindays’s approach is neat and tidy, Emily goes for more of an eclectic, funky style, which includes a leopard-print lampshade and a canvas, high-backed lounge chair.

The girls also opted for the bunk beds, for an additional $137. A word of caution: The beds, which are accessed via ladder, may pose a problem for active types prone to leg injuries (such as Emily, who sprained her ankle mountain biking).

Food stash: A case of ramen because “the food isn’t the greatest,” and chips and salsa.
Personal touches:
Lindsay: Drew Barrymore collage.
Emily: Black feather boa.

Lulu McLean, a freshman from Tennessee, displays her coveted pride of pickles, which she never leaves home without. However, as she begins to branch out and meet new people at the Fort, she acknowledges she may have to cut down on her breath-sabotaging treat.Roomie 1: Lulu McLean, Tennessee
Major: Undecided
Roomie 2: MIA
Design approach: Las Vegas meets the Vlassic pickle stork
Room size: 12-by-16 feet

Design problems and solutions: Having driven all the way from Tennessee, space also was a consideration for Lulu, but she has a master 3-part development plan already worked out in her head.

“My hopeful plan is to get the bunk-bed thing, buy a bookshelf and put the desks under the beds,” she said.

Food stash: Large supply of pickles. Lulu admits to having, well, a bit of a problem with the salty snack. “I love pickles; I bring them everywhere I go.” She noted, however, that she plans to cut back because “they make your breath stink” and “my roommate saw them and said she was scared.”
Personal touches:
Christmas lights. “I want to put them up around my window,” she said. “They’ll look nice when we set them up.” Also, Pink Floyd concert poster and copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Brent Webster holds up one of the few knick knacks gracing his West Hall dorm room, a baby picture of himself.Roomie 1: Brent Webster, San Diego
Major: History
Roomie 2: Kyle Stamp
Major: undecided
Design approach: Outward Bound meets book bound
Room size: 16-by-18 feet

Design problems and solutions: Brent, an admitted neat freak, said he faced no challenge in getting his belongings – mostly pictures and books – into his room. “I don’t have a lot of posters and stuff. I’m sort of boring in that respect.”

Meanwhile, roommate Kyle has used up every available inch of wall space with a road bike, mountain bike and various snowboarding posters and faces a possible dilemma come winter.

“I still have got to get my snowboard in here,” he said.

Food stash: No ramen in plain view
Personal touches: Framed baby picture of Brent

Roomie 1: Dan Unger, Arizona
Major: business/finance
Roomie 2: MIA
Design approach: Bay Watch meets Croc Hunter
Room size: 16-by-18 feet
Design problems and solutions:

Apparently unable to stand the sight of bare walls, Dan has covered them in “weird and random things to give it a little life.” In the weird and random category is a shark’s jaw, and in the “little life” category are Carmen (as in Electra, for those who are so bold as to ask “Carmen who?”) because “she’s hot;” Britney (“she’s hot”); and Victoria (“we don’t even know who she is, but she’s hot”)
Food stash: Was going to do the Wal-Mart ramen run that night; in the meantime, there were plenty of Doritos.
Personal touches:
“Gooch Gulch” sign from a golf course where he used to work and George Foreman mini grill.

Kyle Popish and his bargain find: a case of Ramen that cost $3.95.Roomie 1: Kyle Popish, Aspen
Major: English education
Roomie 2: MIA
Design approach: High-tech bachelor
Room size: 16-by-18 feet
Design problems and solutions:
Kyle opted for the more spacious Lshaped
rooms of West Hall because, “I
was afraid my roommate would be psycho
and have a bunch of stuff.” As it
turns out, his roommate did have a lot
of stuff, but it’s the kind Kyle thinks he can live with: A DVD player, TV, Surround Sound stereo, Playstation II, refrigerator, printer and fax. And it all fit wonderfully – in fact there was even room left over for a babe poster, although Kyle insists that it’s not his.

Kyle and buddies hang out next to a poster that is NOT Kyle's.Food stash: Case of ramen bought at Sam’s Club. “The whole thing only cost $3.95.”
Personal touches:
Homer Simpson poster extolling
virtues of a certain malt beverage.
Required reading: Lulu McLean’s copy of Hunter S.Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.






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