Living in Southwest: all the options and benefits of living in the ‘concrete jungle’

Southwest has five tall residential towers

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(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Cassie McGrath, Assistant News Editor

The Southwest Residential Area is currently the largest on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, known for its five tall towers and Patriots Super Bowl celebrations and delicious dining halls. Southwest, or “Swest,” has become the home of many students, so what are the benefits from living in this part of campus?

Southwest is home to 16 residence halls, five towers and 11 low-rise halls. Kennedy is the freshman tower while, Melville, Thoreau, Pierpont, Moore, James, Emerson and Cance Halls are freshman low-rises. Upperclassmen are welcome to live in the towers Coolidge, Washington, John Quincy Adams, John Adams and low-rises, Prince, MacKimmie, Patterson and Crampton.

Junior communication disorders major Sam Ames lived in Pierpont her freshman year and MacKimmie her sophomore year, specifically choosing another low-rise.

“I lived in a low rise because I didn’t want the craziness of living in the tower and didn’t want the possibility of living on the top floor,” Ames said. “But I stayed in Southwest because of all the people I met and we all decided to stay in the same area for the following year.”

Junior communications and hospitality and tourism management major, Olivia Schumacher on the other hand lived in a low-rise her freshman year but chose a tower sophomore year.

“Switching from a low rise to a tower was a little bit of an adjustment,” Schumacher said. “I had to get used to the fact that I really only could use the elevator in the towers since I was on the 13th floor. Even six floors was a lot to climb. But the high-rises were nice because the bathrooms were much closer to the rooms.”

“In the low-rise, I had to either go around to the other side of the hall or up or down the stairs to the closest girls bathroom,” she added. “Since I lived in a low-rise my first year, people were more eager to meet other people and make friends. But moving into a tower, not a lot of people will try to make more friends because they have already established who their friends are.”

Schumacher also addressed Southwest’s reputation about craziness in the towers as she said, “Sometimes at night, the towers would have people on every floor taking pictures in the hallway and every room would have a pre-game. Also, the elevators would be packed with people because everyone is trying to go out and party. So, the towers can be crazy at night when everyone is going out but other than that, people usually keep to themselves and their friends.”

Doubles are most common in Southwest. Students choose different types of rooms based on what they think will accommodate their needs.

Victoria Giffin, a senior biology major, said she preferred living in a “z-room” rather than a traditional dorm room.

“Coming in as a freshman I was nervous about everything, making friends and doing well in classes,” Giffin said. “I was scared I was going to lose myself and begin feeling like just another person shoved into a box. The Z-room, even though you share it with another person gave me privacy. I had my own space and could retreat to it when I was stressed.”

Giffin contrasted the experience with her sophomore year, when she lived in a corner room.

“[The corner room] isn’t even big enough to have all of the furniture on the ground. I felt exposed both because of the proximity of my roommate and the fact you can see into the peoples window directly across the tower from you.”

While students may have individual preferences for rooms, all students proved that there is no single Southwest experience to be had.

Cassie McGrath can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @cassiemcgrath_.