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A cynic's guide to life in the UA dorms

By Mark Sussman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
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Supposedly, "it's not what you know, it's who you know," and in the dorms the cliché is doubly true. Because chances are, if you are living in the dorms, you are a freshman.

Whether you are attending UA to study hard and get a good education or just stopped by for directions to the party, you're going to need to know how to maneuver the labyrinthine social structures of dorm life. At some point you will need something that you don't have and have no way to get on your own.

I lived in the dorms as a freshman and I too had to figure how to get what I wanted through sheer glad-handing and social networking. I wouldn't go so far as to call it making "friends," but I did find a way to get off campus every weekend despite not having a car. And I did find a way to procure certain things that you just can't buy at Safeway.

Living off-campus affords me some benefits. One of them is that I can smoke and take a piss at the same time without being hassled by an RA. Another is that I can offer up some words of wisdom on who to make nice to in the dorms.

The Chauffer

This is anybody with a car. Since most dorm rats don't have cars and the UA campus has a less-than-thriving social scene come 10:30 on Friday night, you need to find this person.

Once you do, don't be stingy. Or don't seem stingy. Offer gas money, but do it a kindly-yet-pathetic Oliver Twist sort of way. Here's an example: "Oh, thanks so much for giving me a ride to Jefferson Commons. I can give you gas money, but I have to check my account balance because I think I've been overdrafting for the past week and I'm out of food, so I might only be able to give you a couple of dollars because I'm down to eating six Cheetos per day and I'm getting sores which I think might be scurvy. So can we stop by an ATM?"

What asshole would take your money after that?

The Drug Dealer

Some freshmen do the drug experimentation thing, others don't. If that's your scene, you need to know this person and make good friends. And really make them like you, because if they think you're their friend, they'll give you the good stuff for free sometimes.

If that's not your scene, these people probably still know about some good parties. The down side is you will have to listen to them talk about stuff like the time they got soooo high and, like, how crazy it is that we're so small and the universe is so big.

The Rich Kid

Most people aren't rich. To be rich you need an absolutely staggering amount of money, and even most well-off people who consider themselves rich are actually paupers compared to people who are honest to God and truly rich.

That being said, there are probably one or two honest to God and truly rich people in your dorm. You should find these people because they have stellar DVD collections and will let you borrow whatever you want.

They probably won't even ask for their copy of "Ishtar" back because, really, what the fuck do they care?

Those Kids Who Are Always, Always in the Study Lounge

Let's face it: You're not a genius. It's okay. Just come to grips with that fact now and adopt a Zen-like detachment from your ego. That's better.

Now close your organic chemistry textbook because you will never, ever understand what any of that stuff means. At any time between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on any given night, walk over to your dorm's study lounge and start chatting up those kids you always see studying.

You see, while you are drunkenly fumbling with the keys to the front door and trying to hold back the vomit, these kids are studying. And not studying like most people study. These kids rank theoretical physics and advanced computer science up there with food, water and oxygen. So be nice and they will get you through your gen-eds.

Your Roommate(s)

This person is insane. Avoid this person at all costs.

Someone Over 21

Every dorm has one. This guy has been living the dorm life since he got to college and is so desperate for something to do, he will buy you booze. He's the best fake ID in the world because, unlike your fake, he will walk into the store and actually purchase your drinks for you. Know this person. Love this person.

Your RA

This is vitally, vitally important. Your RA is probably a tool. This is no fault of the RA, just an unfortunate function of their being an authority figure in approximately the same age group as their charges.

Your RA will try to make you think they're cool, they like to cut loose sometimes, they're "down," etc. But remember: RA's are essentially wolves in sheep's clothing, security guards without uniforms or guns (usually).

Treat your RA in the same toadying, placating manner you would a cop who has just pulled you over for speeding. Ingratiate yourself and the rules tend to become a bit more lax, your late-night drunkenness a bit less obvious and your stereo less loud.

In the dorms and at the UA in general you are not a unique and special flower. You are a number attached to a Bursar's account. Chances are you will meet people you genuinely like and want to hang out with, regardless of the perks to their friendship. But those people don't have cars, drugs and they're dumb as bricks. So take advantage of the UA's resources. After all, college ain't free.

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