Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Point: Central is simply better than Southwest

From greenery to the dining halls, Central reigns supreme
(Collegian file photo)

People living in Southwest Residential Area are lucky — on any given day, they can relax around their residential area. They can chow down at their cozy, slow-paced, beloved dining hall. They can walk down the street into downtown Amherst with friends, enjoying the quiet stroll to Antonio’s. They can relax on “the hill” with a group of friends, while someone strums a guitar as they set up a picnic at sunset.

Oh wait, that’s not Southwest — that’s Central Residential Area.

For a part of campus that’s left virtually unexplored by those not living there or in the neighboring Orchard Hill Residential Area, the area known affectionately as “up the hill” offers many experiences and conveniences unique to that area.

The heart and soul of Central is the hill, deeply loved by all who have the pleasure of living within proximity of it. Situated between Central and Orchard Hill, it is a perfectly slanted piece of greenery overlooking campus and the mountainous terrain of the Pioneer Valley. On any given night, you can find a group of friends playing instruments, watching the sun set and relaxing to the fullest extent. During the early fall season, fresh apples can be picked from the trees. No other area on campus offers a space that brings the community together like The Hill does.

And if you spend enough time on the hill, you’re likely to get hungry for one reason or another. Luckily for all Central inhabitants, Antonio’s is a pleasant walk down the street. Greeno Sub Shop offers a variety of paninis and is located in Greenough, one of Central’s dorms. You can grab a milkshake or pizza bagel at Sweets ‘n’ More, which is a short stroll away in Orchard Hill. And who knows? Maybe you’ll see Baby Berk on your way, as it is nearby most nights. Worcester Late Night offers food that rivals Berk Late Night, the only saving grace for Worcester Dining Commons. And you can’t forget the beloved Koffee Haus in Butterfield, offering free food and live music.

Parking tickets are virtually nonexistent, and police never bother anyone. That cannot be said in Southwest, where police seem about as common as JUULs.

This goes without saying, but Central is simply the most aesthetically pleasing residential area. Old-fashioned brick buildings complemented by a pale-yellow trim, trees lining the walkways and the crowning jewel of campus that is Van Meter Hall. This classic rural New England feel is much more pleasing to the eye than the concrete jungle that is Southwest. The weeknights are usually quiet, allowing for people who actually enjoy sleep to get some. Trap music is rarely heard blasting from the shower stalls, something that most residents are grateful for. From my experience, Southwest is the antithesis of this.

Now for the kicker: Franklin Dining Commons is the best dining hall. I’m putting it out there now.

Although the food is admittedly worse than Southwest’s extravagant Hampshire Dining Commons and Berkshire Dining Commons, what Frank lacks in flavor it makes up in atmosphere. The indescribable smell, the outdated wallpaper that could have easily been replaced but probably never will be, the same food selections every day. Frank is predictable, relaxing and oddly charming.

Central residents are known to relax in the dining hall for hours on end with friends, sometimes from meal to meal. Excluding Halloween, there is never a line out the door, and the lunchtime rush is much more navigable than the stress-inducing mosh pit that Hamp and Berk become at any given hour of the day. Yes, at first the “Frank stank” may be unsettling. However, the stank eventually becomes unavoidable and asserts itself as a mildly endearing part of everyday life.

And Frank has the best stir fry. No question about it.

Another part of Central that may deter the general public is the steep terrain. The incline to the residence halls is a force to be reckoned with, but how do you think Central residents stay trim without a gym nearby? After a hike up the hill, beads of sweat are almost guaranteed. Now try doing that three or four times a day. It’s basically Mother Nature’s fully inclined treadmill, no gym necessary.

Southwest may party more frequently (which any Central resident can walk to), have fantastic food (accompanied by anxiety-inducing crowds) and be in proximity to the gym (a chance at self-torture), but it simply doesn’t offer the comfort and inclusion that Central does. If a lack of sleep and greenery is your bread and butter, then Southwest just may be the place for you. Personally, I would prefer not to live in what is rumored to be one of the most densely populated places in the country. But hey, that’s just my preference.

If you want to discuss this further or throw hands about it, you can find me napping on the hill on any sunny afternoon.

Matt Berg is an Assistant Op/Ed Editor and can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mattberg33.

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