UH freshman get lucky in new dorms
The residential class of 2014 is unbelievably lucky. Not only do they get to break in gorgeous, state of the art freshmen dorms, they also may never need to know the horror that is normal college cafeteria food. The campus the new freshman class experienced in their first week of living at the University of Houston is almost completely different from the one my class came to a year ago. That change is almost entirely for the better.
Cougar Village, which opened this semester, caters mostly to first-year students, although upperclassmen in the Honors College join freshmen on the top three floors. While Cougar Village could have used another few weeks to finish being built (many rooms are still missing trim and were dusty on move-in day), the new dorms are a huge step up in both quality and atmosphere from both the Quadrangle and Moody Towers.
It still lacks a Convenience Store and a post office — and when those important additions will be completed remains unclear — but Cougar Village has all the basic facilities students need to get by. Each floor has a couple huge lounges. great for socialization, along with four smaller study rooms. While the study rooms do not have white boards (necessary for any serious group cram session) about a quarter of them have workout equipment to help bored students blow off steam.
One of the biggest improvements about Cougar Village, though, is its bathrooms. Each four-person suite contains two sinks, a toilet, plenty of cabinet space, and a full bathtub, complete with a showerhead. Considering that the showers in the Quadrangle provide barely enough room to move and Moody Towers residents do not even get their own showers, this is a huge improvement.
The dorm rooms themselves are long and narrow, but come with furniture designed with students’ needs in mind. The upper stories provide gorgeous views of both campus and downtown Houston. Residents can pull flaps out of their desk, dresser and cabinets to provide extra study space. The height of the beds can be adjusted to accommodate students’ storage needs and the hard, cold concrete floors are easily spruced up with a throw rug and are perfect for the rolling desk chairs that come with each room.
Perhaps, the most important feature of Cougar Village is the speed of its internet: fast. Using Ethernet connections from one of the dorm rooms, download speeds can reach almost 100 Megabytes/second (fast enough that downloading a television show from iTunes takes under 10 minutes), and the wireless internet in the lounges is just as impressive.
The cafeteria at Moody Towers is almost completely unrecognizable since it was remodeled and rebranded over the summer. Where stale cookies and greasy pizza once were served at Real Food on Campus, students now use their meal plans to feast on white chocolate bread pudding still warm from the oven and salmon that has been cooked right before your eyes at the Fresh Food Company. While there has already been a slight decline in the meal quality since the first days of school, the food at the new cafeteria is still more like what one would expect to find at a four- or five-star restaurant than on the main floor of a college dormitory.
The atmosphere to this cafeteria fits its high-quality cuisine. An artistic theme of red and black, coupled with a wide array of booths and tables, makes dining at the Fresh Food Company feel more like you’re eating at a restaurant than in a penny-pinching college dorm.
The only true downside to all of these improvements, from the freshman standpoint, is that next year most freshmen currently dwelling in Cougar Village will have to find somewhere else to live. If they want to stay on campus and continue enjoying the new cafeteria, they can downgrade to living in the Quadrangle or Moody Towers. Otherwise, their options are move back home or get an apartment. Either way, it seems like all their options are going to be disappointing after a year of college luxury.
Casey Goodwin is a mechanical engineering sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]