TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, April 15, 2004
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Dorms beat military barracks

Eugene Chu is a senior political science major from Arlington.

One of the most common complaints by TCU students is the quality of on-campus housing. Many point to the great number of students who choose to live off campus. In fact, one of my fellow columnists even wrote this week about her perception of high prices and low residence hall quality. While I share some of the many complaints of the TCU body about the administration, I actually stand up for TCU on-campus housing.

Before coming to TCU, I served for three years in the U.S. Army and lived exclusively in military barracks. Unlike Hollywood movies, regular personnel live two to four per room in barracks, and giant 20-person barracks are normally used for boot camp. I point out this fact not as a patriotic chest thumping, but as a contrast between TCU housing and military housing. During my time, the U.S. Army was drastically renovating its housing, but a significant number of soldiers still lived in older, less hospitable barracks. Those people who complain about TCU residence halls should try living in some of those older military barracks.

I can still vividly remember the conditions of both the residence hall and the military barracks. At TCU, I had good furniture including a clean mattress; in the barracks, the furniture and my mattress might have been older than me. At TCU, I had free cable TV and high-speed Ethernet; in the barracks, I had to pay out-of-pocket for both cable TV and dial-up Internet. At TCU, the newly painted walls and carpet were clean; in the barracks, the walls were eventually painted over in order to cover up graffiti from previous residents. Many military barracks have been renovated or replaced today, but I still lived in near dilapidated quarters during my time.

Along with differences in living conditions, the differences in lifestyle is also significant. At TCU, residence assistants do not care that a room is not always neat. In military barracks, sergeants frequently inspected rooms for orderliness. At TCU, university housekeeping clean up the common areas; in the barracks, my enlisted peers and I were required to do common area cleaning. At TCU, hall socials and roommate spats are relatively tame; in the barracks, the MPs (military police) were called a couple of times. So before you complain about life in a college dorm, think about what life is like in military barracks.

During my time as a TCU student, I have lived both on and off campus. After living three years in various military barracks, my housing grant and my time in a residence hall was a step up, not down. TCU does charge a significant amount for on-campus housing, but I thought it was worth it. I am comfortable living off campus, but I would much rather live in a TCU dorm than in military barracks not yet renovated. While I chose to move off campus during my junior and senior years, I look back at my old residence hall with fondness, not bitterness.
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