Hello prospective students, confused current students, and lost surfers of the web. Welcome to He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown, where I address your questions about the most ubiquitous aspect of college living. My name is Justin Ferenzi, and I’m here to help shine some light on the rollercoaster ride that is dorm life.
It’s the first day of school. Everyone looks like a small, frightened puppy. Most people don’t know anyone. I mean, it’s college move-in day. Nobody said it wasn’t a little scary.
Luckily, Brown is all about fostering open environments and communities. One of the best way they do this is through the freshman unit. On the surface, it’s just the people who live on your floor and the peer advisors assigned there. But the way Brown goes about it is unique, and it works really well in making the transition into college a lot easier.
During orientation, you’ll be
forced highly encouraged to attend a lot of different events, but in my opinion, the best of these are the unit meetings. It’s a great way to get to know the people you’ll be spending the next year with, and start fostering your first friendships at Brown. Your peer leaders are really helpful in facilitating this process—let me briefly introduce you to the alphabet soup that is your residential support system.
Each unit is assigned three Residential Peer Leaders, or RPLs. They aren’t like the typical RAs at other colleges, in that they aren’t there to keep order or enforce rules. They are there strictly as an open support system, to ask about classes, college life, or just to vent.
There’s your general Residential Counselor, or RC, who’s there to help with normal issues: roommate conflicts, academic questions, extracurricular activities, social life… The list goes on.
You will also have a Women’s Peer Counselor, or WPC, whose main role is to mediate and advise residents about issues related to gender and sexuality, and all things related to that.
The third RPL is the Minority Peer Counselor, or MPC, who is there to help students belonging to minority groups with their specific questions and concerns.
All of your RPLs, no matter their specific designation, are there to help you. You can still go to your WPC if you don’t identify as a woman, and to your MPC if you are not a member of a minority group. All three are fantastic resources for any and all aspects of college life.
And with regards to your fellow residents: they are the people you’ll be living with and sharing spaces with every single day, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to make great friends. There are lots of opportunities during the first week or so of school to get to know your unit, including the aforementioned meetings and Unit Wars. Unit Wars, pictured above, is a huge tradition at Brown where various units compete in activities like human charades, tug-of-war, a water balloon toss… there were about 22 games in total, if I remember correctly, and it was a ton of fun. After that, it’s up to you.
I’ve personally had a great experience with my unit, and most of my best friends live right down the hall, which is pretty cool. Other units don’t get as close, which is totally fine, too. There are a lot of opportunities through classes, clubs, and sports to meet new people. But don’t sell your unit too short—the chances are high that you’ll meet some pretty amazing people.
When Justin Ferenzi isn’t blogging, he’s obsessively refreshing his email account for blogging-related correspondence. For any and all questions about dorm life at Brown, don’t hesitate to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org