“Botetourt, it’s pronounced BOT-EH-TOT,” was the first piece of advice given to me as a freshman at the College of William and Mary. I may have had other pieces of advice slip through the cracks as I tried to absorb everything going on during Orientation at an overwhelmingly dizzying pace, but I will never forget that key piece of advice that I now pass on to readers of The Flat Hat: it’s called “BOT-EH-TOT.”
Botetourt, a complex of five freshman dormitories on Wake Drive — I myself dwell in Gooch Hall — has gained a negative reputation among the masses here at the College. The rooms are relatively small, it is a fair distance away from several of the main buildings on campus — my roommate brought his bike for this very purpose — and you never know what temperature your shower water will decide to be for the day. These factors would certainly turn away many prospective freshmen at any college tour, especially when the worried parent undoubtedly asks, “Are you sure you can live here for the whole year?”
Yes. Having only resided in Botetourt for a little over a month, the answer is undoubtedly yes. In order to answer any possible confusion to this answer, let us backtrack through the reasons I pointed out above. Furthermore, let this piece serve as a word of assurance to future freshmen who are scared at the prospect of having to live in Botetourt, or even current freshmen who could benefit from a new perspective.
Indeed, it is true, with unique features such as the unpredictable showers, each of the Botetourt halls are certainly not winning awards for “Best Building on Campus.” However, with one’s standards set low enough by their freshmen residence hall, the promise of bigger and better accommodations for one’s remaining years at the College cannot be diminished. Rather than potentially facing the disappointment of having to “downgrade” living arrangements from freshman year, almost every option for upperclassmen housing is bound to be an improvement for residents of Botetourt. A very self-serving motivation, in all honesty, but please keep reading; just as a Botetourt resident is bound to hear countless times, the best is yet to come.
Yes, getting to Earl Gregg Swem Library, the Sadler Center or anywhere on Old Campus is going to require some low-key hiking, preferably through the Grim Dell shortcut to catch some shade. On the other hand, for those fantastic sporting events at Kaplan Arena or a daily grind at the Student Recreation Center, Botetourt residents are only a short walk from a great time with their friends. Along the way, they can even catch a quick meal at Commons Dining Hall, which is not only widely regarded as one of the best places to eat on campus due to its wide and dependable selection of food, but is also only a few minutes away from the residents of Botetourt; when it comes to college dining, such a boon is not to be taken lightly.
Most special, however, is the location of Lake Matoaka right behind the Botetourt Complex. As someone who comes from a state sandwiched between two of the largest cities in America, laying on the Bote-dock at night and seeing a vast array of stars has been one of my favorite freshman experiences thus far.
Nevertheless, what truly makes living in Botetourt worth it is the people who live there. As an incoming freshman, one of my biggest fears was finding a new group of friends in a strange, new place. In that regard, I am very glad that I was placed in Gooch Hall, where I am already surrounded by a group of friends so tight that it may as well be considered my new family. There is always someone in the lounge to talk to, always a helping hand to count on during the struggles of college life, and always the promise of amazing, diverse adventures and experiences. I have little doubt that, were I to be placed in another hall within Botetourt, I would not have been lucky to have formed such tight bonds so quickly.
So, if you have been selected for Botetourt, I have only one word: Congratulations!
Email Lucas Harsch