Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Newman Hall

For the past semester my I have lived in private certified housing, specifically Newman Hall. Last year, all I knew about Newman Hall was that it was a Catholic dorm and that Nick Dietrich lived here. It had the stereotype of being a bunch of boring weird kids who didn't go out, and probably all had their own rosaries. After a semester here I feel like I've gotten a pretty good grasp on this place and I have to be honest, the stereotypes are kind of true.

Newman Hall tries to offer every possible thing you could want in your college life. You sleep at Newman, eat at Newman, study in the caf or the Lewis lounge, hang out in the floor lounges, participate in evening activities they offer, worship at Newman, and even go on trips over break with your Newman family. In theory this could seem like a nice idea. Newman is a home and the people there are a community. However, in my observation it has greatly stunted these kids' college experiences.

When I lived in public dorms, I had friends all over campus, I rarely ate at the same dining hall for every meal in a day, and everyone I knew was the same way. The people I lived with were involved with a ton of activities on campus and  could go out with a variety of different groups. Most of the people I have met at Newman spend almost all of their downtime here, their friend group is consists mostly of other Newman residents, and if they get involved, it's with a Newman organization. Obviously there are exceptions, our very own Nick is a second year resident and has tons of outside friends via improv, but this is a rarity.

On my own floor, the girls I have bonded with the most have been the girls in sororities which is surprising because these are the types I tried to avoid last year. However, when compared to the other Newman types on my floor, these are the girls who are going out and doing something different. It's almost like they are the rebels.

Finally, and this is going to be a terrible generalization, Newman Hall is has one of the largest homogenous and sheltered/naive populations I have come in contact with on campus. Again, I know this is certainly not everyone, but it is true for a sad amount residents. As everyone at U of I, most of the people you meet here are from the suburbs. Plus, these kids' parents decided to pay for private housing for their children. For some that is a religious or community-based decision, but for many, it's proof that your parents probably don't have too much trouble with money. As white, privileged kids from the suburbs, these kids haven't seen much of the world and Newman Hall is allowing them to keep that shelter. I start to cringe every time I hear someone here try to use the term hippie or hipster, try to discuss social issues, or brag about partying. This is because it is almost always followed by a misinformed or just slightly off statement that is immediately accepted by those around them.

Oh! and why don't we have any kind of late night or convenient store? I have spent more on food this semester than I ever did last year.

Ok, so I'm ranting. And probably offending a lot of people. I'll try to add in the positives. Newman has a baller location. Seriously, I get mad when I have to walk more than about 6 minutes anywhere because of how spoiled I am living next to the quad. Also, there is a sink in the room, and the room is bigger. These things really do make a huge difference. My RA is also really nice. That's not really a Newman thing, I just like her. Also the weird meal system makes it incredibly easy to steal food for yourself and others. Oh and they leave a soda fountain out at all times so that's just free. That's really all I can think of. Needless to say I can't wait for Sweden.



  1. I don't think it's as bad as you think; you're falling into selection bias here. The kids you're seeing and basing your judgement around are the ones who are here all the time: the ones who study in the caf, go to church group, and never leave the building. But most residents are pretty normal, and you don't see them because they are out with friends or studying in their room/the library like normal people.

    Though our proportion of sheltered/intolerable people is really high.

  2. My favorite part was how none of the positives involved people in any way, other than your RA.

  3. I was a Newmanite myself for 2 years and I 'd have to say that what you say is mostly true. There are ALWAYS exceptions, like myself, a few friends and nick. However, one of the main reasons I left Newman was because I felt like I wasn't truly experiencing college, I was in comparison to some people, but it wasn't enough for me. I could tell you of countless weekends I spent inside the walls of was just weird...

    however, despite all of that even, the Newman community, however sheltered some of them may be, have proven to me to be some of the most mature and respectful individuals i have met on campus.