Our lounge furniture bears stains of which no one dares ask the origins. The faint smell of liquor emanates from a room in the basement, which is locked for reasons that the Resident Assistants claim we “wouldn’t want to know.” On any given day, a stray can of beer may come crashing down from above.
Welcome to the new and improved Units, where you can take the fraternity out of the Unit, but not out of the ceiling tiles.
I can honestly say I’m a little bitter about living in the Units. (For those who are unaware, we still call the Green and Gold Village the Units.) My unit, the only one that boasts antique furniture, also has a lovely moldy basement (dehumidifiers included) and a wonderful view of the brand new fraternity housing where all of the past Unit residents now live in luxury. Despite all of this, I have a strangely masochistic adoration for my unit. The name is a horribly fitting pun; my hallmates and I are, in fact, a unit. The common dread of being stuck in the Units is what brings us together.
We have a common joke about the irony of the new fraternity houses. How is it fair that our innocent freshman class got stuck in someone else’s mess while said someone else is probably living it up in a brand new house? After all, I’d be willing to bet that in a few years those houses will be in a state comparable to that of the Units. When I moved in, I felt like I had been given the short end of the stick, and I would have gladly taken the Botetourt Complex and their rumors of rats over the Units and its filthy remnants of a dead party scene.
But we can’t stay bitter forever. The Units have been a mess for a long time. Maybe the previous residents felt the exact same way I do about living here. Maybe new fraternity housing was a sort of reward for making it through their stay in the Units. Maybe living in the Units is a rite of passage; after all, mine is the first freshman class to reside here.
For us freshmen, there is a sickly sweet sort of fun in imagining all of the memories our upperclassmen friends laugh at when they think of living in the Units. What is even better is that we can pick up where the previous residents left off; we can hide our own stories in the ceiling tiles for next year’s class to find.
In a bizarre and somewhat uncomfortable sense of welcoming, the College of William and Mary has opened its arms to the class of 2017 with a generous gift. We are the first freshmen to inherit the stink and the grime of what once was a dive on campus. But more importantly, we have inherited the sense of togetherness that previous residents developed here. We, too, can appreciate and laugh at the memories made here, but we can also make our own. We have a legacy to uphold.
Email Kaitlan Shaub at firstname.lastname@example.org.