College living was once notorious for its subpar offerings of stale rooms, florescent lighting, and marginal provisions. In the 1920s, college students, who were exclusively male, spent their study years in cloistered, cinderblock rooms, and since then, the profile of a college dorm has undergone an astounding transformation.
Students of today’s era may spend their dorm life living in the lap of privacy, technology, and luxury, where some of the top schools offer swimming pools, hot tubs, rock climbing, large plasma screen TVs, fitness centers, wireless internet, personal laundry services, cleaning services, quality dining, panoramic city views, expensive lighting and room decor by acclaimed interior designers, high-end furniture, and the list goes on.
Despite the declining economy, schools have acquiesced the improvident demands of their student body for such costly amenities, justifying it by their hopes to “mirror what students have grown up with.” (Boston Globe) Sarah Schweitzer of the Boston Globe reported in a 2008 article called, “The New Campus Crib,” that Boston University spent $100 million this year on towers that sit adjacent to another pair of towers that cost the university $85 million in 2000. Time magazine published a photo essay by M.J. Shephy that featured Rutgers University’s $55 million Rockoff Dorm, which highlights a Coldstone Creamery, a Seven Eleven, an ultra-modern gym with state-of-the-art equipment, grocery delivery for residents, room cleaning and laundry services.
“Society has changed,” said Karen Nilsson, senior associate dean for student life with a focus on residential life at MIT. “These students who have had their own rooms, their own bathrooms all their lives. They are going off to college looking for those kinds of things.” (Boston Globe)
The problem with this coddling mentality is that facilities are placing more of an emphasis and budget focus on the facades of the schools rather than the quality of education. Many freshman students’ comfort and satisfaction balances upon the ambience of the dorms; however, the credibility of their opinion is based upon the depth of their wallets and not their knowledge or understanding of a quality education, though they may think themselves savvy. When full-time professors are losing their jobs to budget cuts and institutions are staffing part-time, less qualified professors, yet throwing away millions of dollars to revamp the school common areas, it seems as though either the students or the administrations have gone a bit non compos mentis.
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