Crowell Hall is located between 13th and Linden Streets in the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, USA. It is a dormitory on the campus of Albright College. Albright is a private, four-year Liberal Arts college which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Albright College has been in existence since 1856, and will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2006. It started as a Methodist seminary for men, which was completely housed in one building. The college has evolved over the almost 150 years of existence to a co-ed school consisting of over 27 buildings, about 17 of which are buildings that students live in.
The Crowell Hall dormitory has not, of course, been around since 1856; it was built much later than that, and was named for John Franklin Crowell, one of the principals of Albright when it was still a seminary. The hall is located in the 'Quad', which consists of four dormitories: Walton, Krause, Smith, and Crowell. Crowell is currently used as the freshman experience dorm, so the entire dorm is swarming with freshman students. It consists of three floors and a small basement. The basement houses a boiler room and a laundry room, which is equipped with three washing machines and three dryers. Every floor has 19 rooms; each room is set up for two people to live in. Every room comes with a micro-fridge, cable, Internet access, and a phone line, so students are able to communicate with the outside world. There are four Residents Assistants and three Peer Educators that live in the building. These seven people are the only students in the building that are not freshman; this is because they are the people who enforce the rules in the dorm.
It is a privilege to live in Crowell Hall, only 100 students from the freshman class get to live there, but the privilege comes with some side-effects. Since it is all freshmen, there are tons and tons of drama and petty fights that occur. It takes a lot to survive in that environment - how is anyone able to do it?
Moving into the Building
Move-in Day is probably the hardest day at Albright, but it is even harder for freshmen who have never been away from home before. After a summer of complete freedom, the student has to worry about moving away from home to be able to go to school. These students have to move everything that they have from home: clothes, computer, stereo, TV, everything one needs to live in comfort, into their dorm room, and when you have two students moving into the same small room at the same time it is practically impossible to move in the room. If at all possible, move into the room at different times so you can actually unpack. Move-in is also extremely trying because usually, unless pre-arranged, you don't know who your roommate is and you are now going to be living with that person for the next few months. So if at all possible, it is a smart idea to pick someone you know is going to Albright and room with them.
How to deal with all the Drama
Since the dorm is full of freshmen, drama is a natural by-product. Many of the freshmen have not quite moved into the mindset of college because they are still thinking and acting like they are in high school. Petty fights rise up on a regular basis. At any given time there is at least one fight occurring in the building, though usually far more than just one. Out of the many fights that are occurring, at least one is a boyfriend and girlfriend fighting. Of course these fights are usually the most interesting to watch or listen to because the yelling and screaming is at a very high volume and insults are thrown back and forth like punches in a boxing match (they are better than any soap opera).Usually fights also break out between roommates, but these fights are the petty ones that are solved by just sitting and talking. Roommate fights can be about anything, from one roommate not liking the other's significant other to a missing hair brush. The best way to deal with this so-called 'drama' is to avoid it all together. If a fight happens to break out in your presence, the best idea is to turn and run the other way. If you stay at the site of the disagreement, you will be pulled into it and be forced to choose sides. If sides are chosen, it will not end very nicely because no matter what the final outcome one person will not be happy with you. Another smart idea is to keep your fights/arguments to yourself, don't take them to other people, because again things get very complicated if other people are pulled into the fight. Ask your friends for advice, but don't pull them into your problem. By pulling them in you are putting them in an awkward situation that won't end nicely.
Of course living in a dorm with all freshmen can be a lot of fun. At any time during the day you can find at least one person walking down the hall half-naked after a shower. Also be prepared to be mooned a lot; most guys' favourite pastime is walking down the hall with their asses hanging out. Another thing that people find funny is listening at doors when they believe people are having sex. Guys, more then girls, find the idea of people having sex 'cool' and want to hear all they can. Finally be prepared to have pranks pulled on you. It seems that a male college student's most favourite thing to do is pull pranks on people (preferably girls that they know). They will spray your room with an entire sample can of cologne, put shaving cream on your door, or just spray you with the shaving cream, they will steal stuff and not give it back to you for days, and they will knock on the door at the most god awful hours just to be a pain.
Bring plenty of cash with you. Cash is something that college students find hard to come by, but use all the time. It is not uncommon for a student to order pizza, Chinese food, or make a run to Wawa for a hoagie1. So make sure you have plenty of cash.
Bring plenty of quarters. They are needed to work the washing machines and dryers. Even though you will be a college student it is still nice to have clean clothes.
Bring plenty of CDs, movies and games because if there are no parties, you're going to need something to do. And movie nights are a great way of procrastinating during the week.
Make friends, not enemies. You will be living with these people for the next couple of months, you want them to like you, you don't want to have problems with them.
If you are planning on having an overnight guest of the opposite sex, make sure your roommate is aware of this. Otherwise your roommate will walk in on something they don't want to see.
Snack foods are your best friend. Non-perishable snack foods are a smart idea. The refrigerators are not very big and items that won't go bad if not in a refrigerator are great. They come in handy when finishing a paper at three in the morning, they help keep you awake.
Be yourself. Don't change who you are to accommodate anyone. If they don't like you for you then they don't deserve to get to know you.
Living in Crowell Hall is a blast. Those who get to live in it are a lucky few. It has its advantages like living with and getting to know the people you are in school with for the next four years. But you have to be prepared for the down sides too. Be prepared for the fights and the pranks and you will have a good time there. Keep in mind the survival tips and everything will be fine.