As the deadline for applications for the Class of 2020 heads closer (1 more day!), I wanted to take a minute to address the important yet always unanswered questions that I had when I first started visiting colleges.

1: The Food

I’m pretty sure that tour guides at every college memorize what to say when someone asks about the dining hall food.  They always say: “You just have to be creative and there’s always something you’ll want to eat!” Let’s be honest.  After all my classes are over at 12:50, I am starving.  I am not willing to be creative, I am starving.  So let’s talk about West Dining.  At Union, it’s en vogue to talk about how much West sucks and how much better the other dining option, Upper, is.  Upper is almost exactly the same as West, the only difference is that it is open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only.  Everyone just wants what they can’t have.  The food is fine.  We have turkey dinner Tuesdays and honestly it is my favorite meal of the week.  They have steak a lot too, and I mean real steak.  For breakfast there’s an omelet bar that serves until 10:15.  I will say that the salad bar can sometimes be lacking, but that’s because I have a thing for gourmet salads and a dining hall can’t provide that.  A lot of times, there’s someone giving out samples or a chef from Sodexo comes in and cooks something amazing (cauliflower soup I’m looking at you).

With unlimited pizza, a grill cooking up burgers, and a Subway-style sandwich bar, I really don’t believe anyone could hate the dining hall.  I’d say that the dining halls do a few things really well, but most things are average.  There is always something I can find to eat, even if it is just french fries and chicken tenders.  The dining hall is definitely what you make of it, and while it does pay off to be creative sometimes, I would say that most of the time you don’t even have to be creative to have a meal you’ll like.

The freshman dining hall only offers a meal plan of 15 swipes per week.  That means that you can’t have three meals every day including weekends.  Personally, I have never run out of swipes.  I probably use almost exactly the 15 every week though, because lately I have been getting breakfast before my 8 AM.  To supplement this meal deficit, the school also gives us declining.  Declining is a set amount of “money” that is prepaid onto your ID card.  We freshmen get $200 that we can spend on food anywhere on campus.  This includes Rathskeller, Dutch Hollow, Ushi, O3 Cafe, and the bookstore.  Beyond that, we all keep food in our room and can always eat there if we are hungry.  Overall, there’s always food available and you won’t go hungry.  You just might not want pizza every day in West.

2: Bathrooms

If you want to know how it really is, you can’t just visit a bathroom on a tour and expect to get an idea.  Showers are important.  While I have only ever lived in West, I will say that we do have the best bathrooms.  Our three showers are pretty large, all separated by curtains.  There is no ledge or anything to place your caddy on, but the floor works just fine.  The water pressure is good, and it is almost always hot enough.  The only time it wasn’t for me, was when there was no hot water at all in West, but that only lasted a few hours.  I used to always wonder if there would be lines to use the showers on a daily basis but 9 times out of 10 there’s at least 2 showers open.  On my floor, bathrooms are single-gender until 12 AM until 6 AM when they are open to anyone.  It’s kinda nice, so that if you are sick or something you can just go to the closest bathroom on the floor.  In Davidson, bathrooms are in one area and showers are usually across the hall from them.  Richmond has an interesting setup that is more like West but less spacious.  All in all, the bathrooms can be a little dated (the charming-old-campus look), but work perfectly well.  One little note: we don’t have paper towels in the bathrooms at all.  We do have powerful hand dryers, so it’s all good.

3: The Gym

There are two gyms on campus.  One is in College Park Hall (CPH), a renovated hotel that now serves as upperclass housing.  CPH gym is open 24 hours a day for those who like 3 AM gym sessions.  The other larger gym is Alumni Gym, which is behind the library.  This gym has cardio and machines on the top floor and the free weights on the lower level.  I would say that the gym is frequently busy, at least upstairs, but I’m pretty sure varsity sports use a different gym.  Everything works and is pretty modern, and I’d say it is one of the better gyms I had seen while touring schools.  Its hours can be found here.

One other option people have for exercise is taking wellness classes.  Wellness classes cost money.  Honestly, that really bothers me.  Especially when the usual price is about $50 for a ten week class.  I get it, you are only paying like $5 or less per class, but I have enough to pay for as it is and I feel like the classes should be free.  I did take a HIIT class a few times before having to stop because it conflicted with rugby practice.  I will say that it was a great class and I always left absolutely exhausted.  I guess if you need to drop some money to give yourself a reason to go work out, then maybe the class is a good idea.

Hopefully this helps prospective students get a better idea about daily life at Union.

West College