Whether or not you believe in it, climate change is a real issue. It’s something that affects every single one of us on a very personal level. No, this isn’t about global warming, but it’s arguably just as concerning. This is about the first night in your dorm room, officially away from home. If you were a freshman last year assigned to Old Dickinson, you probably felt like you were moving to a derelict campground, not the “premier public university in the Northeast.” The bricks were fading, the linoleum had seen better days and water pressure hadn’t been invented yet. The place was a total dive. But that was college. You live there for a year and begin to see the magic. Everyone would look at you weirdly when you said, “I don’t really mind how gross it is” or “Really, the showers aren’t THAT bad!” You fell in love with Dickinson, the nicest slum in the world. Old, crappy dorm life became your idea of the “college experience.” Speaking personally, I never wanted anything more.
Then you were promised a city on a hill for fall 2014: New Dickinson. Some rejoiced, others cried. Many doubted that the construction would ever end but, alas, Binghamton University actually kept its promise. Your old dorm room, where you warmly recall vomiting the night away after polishing off a handle, is going to become some teaching assistant’s new office. The study lounges where people used to hook up after hours are going to become classrooms. Your life there is now a history, and it’s time to move on. Your life is no longer in the slums.
New year, new you. New room, new way of life. You aren’t afforded the luxury of being a slob, because the room wasn’t already trashed when you got there. Those “weird smells,” they’re just you now. The buck stops at you for everything. It’s a weird transition. Now you don’t share two dreadful showers with 20 other guys, you share two nice showers with five guys. Your foyer (or “vestibule”) is now a happening hub of social interaction (that is, if you’re cool enough). People aren’t always in your bedroom, getting cheese fries on your pillow. In many ways, the new place is just nicer. There are elevators, ceiling lights (thank God) and central air. Now, it isn’t perfect in any sense of the word, but in comparison, Old Dickinson was Motel 6 and New Dickinson is the Four Seasons. The doors even open with your ID — how fancy! — so no more drunk freshmen are losing their keys Downtown. Oh, and the laundry room doesn’t have a huge puddle on the floor from a leaky ceiling.
It’s a new environment full of new responsibilities. You can’t just beat the hell out of your desk because they’re throwing it away. You can’t break the bed frame because you’re not the last to use it. It’s a new place, and you’re the first person in your room. You have to take care of it. The new dorms are sweet — Dickinson is still No. 1 — but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss the old days.