By Katie Rice '10
For students living in Hendrix’s six traditional residence halls, each spring brings up a difficult question: Should I stay or should I go? Incoming freshmen are required to live in one of the res halls, but upperclassmen can choose from a cornucopia of other housing options, including theme houses and a variety of apartment complexes.
After a year or two of dorm life, many students can’t wait to have their own bathrooms and kitchens. But leaving the effortless camaraderie of group living isn’t easy. Particularly in the apartments, it takes some effort to strike a balance between independence and isolation.
"I like Raney a lot because it’s just one hallway and so you get to know everyone really easily," said Michaelene Miller, a freshman from Little Rock. "There aren’t a lot of places to hide in Raney, and it’s the smallest dorm, so everyone gets to know each other."
Miller and her roommate, freshman Mauren Kennedy of Bentonville, live together on the third floor of Raney. Located next door to the library, Raney has the reputation of being a cloister for the studious "Raney nuns." But what Miller appreciates most is the hall’s central location, which keeps her engaged in campus life.
For next year they have their eyes on the presidential suite – the largest room in Raney, which is annually bestowed upon the new Raney Hall president. Kennedy is about to begin campaigning, but even if she isn’t elected the roommates plan to stay in one of the residence halls.
"As a freshman and sophomore I feel like I should be in the center of campus so I can grab all the opportunities that are available. It’s easier to do that living on campus," she said. "We’ll move into an apartment junior or senior year for sure, because by that time you have your friends and you know what you want to do and you have your basic schedule down."
Few sophomores live in Hendrix apartments, since that space is in high demand by upperclassmen.
"We got lucky," explained Jen Baker '12, who lives in The Corner apartments with her roommate Olivia Harrington '12. The two became best friends when they lived down the hall from each other in Couch Hall last year. They relish the privacy of having their own bedrooms and bathrooms, and they say it’s actually easier to be social in an apartment.
"In an apartment you can have a couple of friends over and it’s not a big deal," Baker said. "You don’t have to worry about your neighbors."
She and Harrington make an effort to invite friends over. They host weekly "family dinners" with their friends, and they have a guestbook and a bathroom guestbook that they ask visitors to sign. They’ve even transformed one of their closets into a teensy third bedroom for friends who want to stay overnight.
Both Baker and Harrington make an effort to hang out on campus, so they still feel like part of the Hendrix community.
"When it’s nice outside we’ll hang out in the pecan court or in the Murphy house after classes, and we study in the library and hang out in the student life center a decent amount of time," Baker recounted. "I don’t feel distant from campus or anything; I still feel like I’m involved."
The only downside of their move to The Corner at the intersection of Mill and Front streets was trying to furnish the apartment. Baker and Harrington had to bring furniture from their homes in St. Louis and New Orleans, respectively.
"It’s going to be a big hassle to move out at the end of the year, since both of us are studying abroad next semester," Baker said. "But we both think it’s worth it. With being abroad, we’re not sure where we’ll live when we come back. But we’d like to keep living in [The Hendrix Corner]. We like it a lot."