Reflections on Hurricane Sandy

For the second year in a row, Halloween was put on hold at Lehigh thanks to a storm that knocked out power to the campus.  Hurricane Sandy tore through Bethlehem, and although we are very lucky compared to other areas around the East Coast, Lehigh did suffer some damage thanks to the storm’s powerful winds.

Below are some images of storm damage on campus, courtesy of LUPD (unless otherwise indicated).  Also included are staff and student reflections on the effects of Sandy, both here on campus and at their homes.

“A few of my residents starting asking me if they could go home days before Provost Pat Farrell announced school would be closed on Monday and Tuesday. When I heard the word that classes were going to be canceled, I suggested that they go home because with no power at school, it would be better for them to go home. Most of them got away from campus on Sunday night, but those that stayed realized a couple days later that it would be better to spend time with friends and family at home.  On Monday night, at the peak of high winds, Sandy managed to uproot one of the trees in the courtyard causing it to fall onto Beardslee. Luckily no windows were damaged and no one was injured, but it left some nice scars on the side of the building.”  – Matt Raborn, Class of 2013

A fallen tree rests against power lines in the off campus area behind the Centennial I Complex and Rathbone Dining Hall.

“We lost power late Monday evening and evacuated Taylor just before noon on Tuesday, staying with my sister and her family just outside of Philly overnight. While it certainly wasn’t so convenient, it pales in comparison to what so many people have gone through over the past week.” – Rabbi Seth Goren, Director of Jewish Student Life, Associate Chaplain, and Residential Fellow in Taylor College

A massive tree beneath Coppee Hall was completely uprooted by Hurricane Sandy.

“Hurricane Sandy had a greater impact on me than I thought it would have. I went home the minute I found out classes were cancelled, and ended up not having power, heat, or running water at my house for the entire week, up to now. At first I was complaining, but driving around in my neighborhood and local areas and seeing the devastation the storm had caused, it really made me thankful and showed me how blessed my family and I were to survive the storm in good health, and that power and heat were the only things we lost. Many other people were much less fortunate.”  –  Ralph Jean-Noel, Class of 2015

A tree outside of Packer Memorial Church and Chandler-Ullman knocks down “The Temple,” a metal sculpture by Mary-Ann Unger that was a part of the Philip and Muriel Berman Sculpture Gardens.

“Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy went right through Long Beach Island, NJ where my family owns a house on the bay. I have since gone to see the house and was shocked by the devastation caused to the area. It was a terrible sight to see people moving all of their possessions out to the curb, because the storm destroyed everything they own.  But the morale even in our neighborhood was incredible. Everyone wanted to help their neighbors, and the policeman and trash men were in great moods, willing to answer any questions or lend a hand whenever possible.”  –  Alex Stephanou, Class of 2015

A tree knocked down by the storm rests on a car in the Mohler Lab parking lot.

“I think what has impacted me most about Hurricane Sandy was seeing the devastation to the shore back home in NJ. I have so many amazing memories there growing up, and knowing people who lost their homes really made everything a lot harder to deal with.”  –    Sam Soto, Class of 2013

Fallen trees outside of the Psi Upsilon fraternity house on “The Hill” provide dramatic testimony to the power of the storm that ripped through campus.

“It was incredible just how empty Brodhead House felt once everyone finished moving out during the power outage. Just goes to show that that home-away-from-home feel of a residence hall is not an intrinsic characteristic of the building, but an atmosphere which every hall mates’ presence is vital for.”  –   Andrew McGarry, Class of 2015

Students displaced from their residence halls found shelter in Grace Hall and later the UC while waiting for power to be restored to campus. (image by Mowffq Mohammad)

Despite the damage at Lehigh and at home, Lehigh students are always quick to find the true moral to the story…

“Hurricane Sandy helped me to realize that life goes on in some pretty amazing ways even without the luxury of convenience. People caring for people helps the world go round. Love of your fellow man/woman is where real POWER comes from, even without electricity.”  –  Dana Mendes, Class of 2013


Packing Tips

Some tips for packing:

  1. Read the suggested packing list!  It’s super helpful, can help you remember things you may have forgotten, and also lists some common things that are not allowed in the residence halls.
  2. Don’t think that you have to bring everything on the packing list.  If you don’t iron your clothes, save yourself the time, trouble, and space in your car by leaving the iron at home.  More on this below…
  3. Pack light!  Remember that the majority of you are sharing a room with someone, and all their stuff has to fit too!
  4. Bring things that will make your room feel like home!  For some, that will mean photos and posters, for others, a specific pillow or stuffed animal (yes, it’s college, but that doesn’t mean you have it give it up just yet!).

Gina’s Packing List Commentary

Room Essentials:

Essentials?  I’m not so sure, but a handful of these are some of the most important things you might forget, like hangers or an extra power strip.  The computer seems like a no-brainer, but if you absolutely had to go without one, you could probably do okay just using the library and computer labs.  Looking at the rest of the list, I’d say about half of things you can definitely leave at home.  Unless you’re in the habit of air drying and ironing your clothes, a drying rack, iron, and ironing board are just going to collect dust.  I’d say the same about the alarm clock.  My guess is that most of us use the alarms on our phones.  If you have a habit of snoozing that one, though, perhaps a separate alarm clock wouldn’t be a bad idea.  An Ethernet cord also isn’t a necessity, as campus is almost entirely wireless, but it’s not a bad idea to toss one in a box somewhere just in case.


These things are all spot on.  I really recommend a portable stain remover, too.  Something similar to a Tide-to-Go pen is easy to throw in a backpack and great for unexpected messes.


All of these also make sense, so there’s not much to say here either.  I always bring one of those sit-up arm pillows to make sitting on my bed more comfortable, but that’s a personal preference.  Residents in M&M!  Take note that you’re in the only residence hall without the extra-long beds, so regular Twin sheets will work better for you.  You can buy bedding through Residence Hall Linens.


Again, most of this section is just common sense.  Think about all the toiletries you would pack for vacation, but increase it to the full-size versions instead of the mini ones.  For a toothbrush/toothpaste holder, most people I know just keep them in their shower totes or keep them in a regular cup.  The bathrooms have cubbies, and I just kept my cup with my toothbrush and toothpaste there.  I would also include flip-flops or shower shoes in this section.  They’re a must.


Think about the things you use every day.  These are the items that make sense here.  For anyone who lives close enough to do so conveniently, I suggest packing a little as possible and figuring out what you need during the first few weeks.  When your parents come for families’ weekend, have them bring you more clothes and the things you realize you do want.  Also, note that you seem to magically accumulate more things in your room as the year goes on (Lehigh LOVES giving out t-shirts, and you’ll end up collecting other odds and ends as well).  You’ll want to bring it all home with you, so think about it like a vacation—you need to leave some room for souvenirs!


While honestly everything on this entire list is optional, these are some personal items you won’t need but will likely want.  Some comments on these items:

  • Pack all of your clothes in storage bins and then just keep the bins at Lehigh (most will fit under your bed when the bed is on the higher setting).
  • A free-standing lamp or desk lamp is also a good idea to add some extra light to the room.  Overhead lights aren’t always as bright as you’d like them to be.
  • Bring stuff that will make your room feel like home—a rug, posters, photos of friends and family, etc. will all help you settle in and feel more comfortable in your new room.
  • There are televisions in lounges in every residence hall, so don’t feel obligated to bring your own.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle rather than a case of water.  The fountain water at Lehigh is not only safe to drink, but it actually tastes good!  If you’re absolutely set on filtered water, they make water bottles with built-in filters.

What NOT to Bring:

Please, please, please do not bring microwaves (one of the most common violations).  You are not allowed to have them.  If we notice you moving one in while your family is still here, we will tell you to send it home with them.  If we find it afterward, we have to confiscate it, fine you for having it, and you can get it back next time you are going home to take home with you.  This also applies to all of the other items on the list, so consider that when packing.  It will save you time and room in your car if you don’t bring them, and it will also save you trouble (and money—the fines associated with having these prohibited items are substantial).  For more information about these policies, check out the General Provisions for Student Occupancy.

Below are some thoughts from students about things they wish they had brought, and things they realized they didn’t need.

Ralph Jean-Noel, Class of 2015
Forgot to bring: Art supplies, tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, etc.), and some of my old high school projects that I ended up needing
Should have left at home: A computer monitor (which I barely used), two video game systems (which I had NO time to use), and a table that didn’t go to much use

Jessie Beck, Class of 2013
Forgot to bring: A small (cheap) vacuum cleaner
Should have left at home: A safe for valuable items, computer lock, and a full set of dishes

Nicole Thens, Class of 2015
Forgot to bring: Ziplock bags, outdoor activity items such as frisbees, a glove/baseball, and a beach towel/picnic blanket

Alexandria Kennedy, Class of 2015
Forgot to bring: More extension cords / power strips
Should have left at home: Pens or pencils (they gave out dozens at the different fairs)

Jimil Ataman, Class of 2014
Forgot to bring: 1. A fan 2. Pens (I go through lots of pens!)
Should have left at home: My TV

Carly Smith, Class of 2013
Forgot to bring: A USB flash drive, my notebooks, and travel computer case/sleeve
Should have left at home: My dustpan (just borrowed a vacuum instead) and a USB keyboard attachment for my computer

Sean Lawrence, Class of 2015
Forgot to bring: Hangers, tissues, air freshener
Should have left at home: Printer, lamp, and those sticky things to hang up stuff on the wall

Nevin Sackson, Class of 2014
Forgot to bring: Hangers, snow boots, and an umbrella
Should have left at home: Water bottles, flashlight, and a lamp

Julia Mers, Class of 2012
Forgot to bring: Painters tape, extra big pillows for people to sit on, and a can opener
Should have left at home: My desk lamp (because the bulb got too hot)

About the Author: Gina Mason is a graduate student at Lehigh’s College of Education and the summer intern at the Office of Residence Life.  She started Gryphoning as an undergraduate at Lehigh, and is excited to be the Head Gryphon in Brodhead for the 2012-2013 year.

Gryphon Society: Lehigh’s Version of the Resident Assistant Position


Way back in 1957, a group of 40 Lehigh undergraduate students (all men at the time!) petitioned the Committee on Social Activities for recognition as a campus “living group” that would provide social opportunities for its members.  This group’s members grew to become staples in the first year residence halls, serving as counselors and role models for the residents.

The Gryphon Society’s name is inspired by the gryphon, a popular beast in Greek mythology.  The half-eagle half-lion creature is known for having guarded the gold of ancient Scythia.  The founders of the Gryphon Society proposed the name because of the similarities between gryphons and the role of Lehigh’s Gryphons on campus – No, we’re not beasts!  It’s because we seek to guard and protect the “gold,” which is, of course, the student population at Lehigh.

The Role of a Gryphon:

The Gryphon Society has evolved in many ways in the 50+ years since its inception.  The group has more than doubled in size, consisting of 100 Gryphons, and members now live in both first year residence halls and upperclassmen residence halls serving more than 2,400 on-campus residents.

In addition to evolving in size and reach, the role of the Gryphon has also expanded from the original “counselor” role.  Today, Gryphons serve as advocates, mentors, role models, policy enforcers, administrators, programmers, resources, and leaders for the students residing in Lehigh’s residence halls.

Gryphons seek to improve the residential experiences of Lehigh undergraduate students by serving an immediate source of support and assistance, facilitating community development, and promoting a safe and healthy residential environment.

Check out this video to hear some Gryphons talking about what being a Gryphon means to them:

Richards Building Profile

Stats: Richards House, a first-year residence hall, houses 143 first-year students.  The co-ed building has four single-gender floors where residents live in singles and doubles.  There is a Gryphon on each floor and one Head Gryphon for the building.

All the rooms contain movable furniture, including a bed, desk with desktop bookshelf, desk chair, dresser, and closet or wardrobe for each resident. Check out floor plans here!

The sister area of Richards is Dravo House, another first-year residence hall.

Like the Richards Facebook page!

Building Profile: (By Nicole Schwartz, Class of 2013)

The People

Because Richards is one of the smallest first year residence halls, all the residents get to know each other very well and create a close-knit community. A lot of the people you meet on your hall will become your best friends for the rest of your years at Lehigh. During my first year in Richards, I was the Resident Hall Council (RHC) President. I, along with other RHC members, made sure that we planned a ton of fun programs to get all the residents together. Our Richards RHC group was very successful and we were able to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere for everyone to experience. As a house event, a bunch of people came together to watch The Office every week while snacking on popcorn and sipping soda. We also threw a Halloween party in the TV lounge, and a big Super Bowl celebration with wings and pizza. Everyone enjoyed these programs and it really brought everyone together and made our first year experience wonderful!

The Atmosphere/ The Rooms

Richards has always been known and will always be known as the residence hall with the best rooms. It has the most spacious and luxurious rooms with great views of Lehigh and South Bethlehem. Each room comes equipped with a bed, desk, dresser, and drawers. However, I would definitely suggest buying some organizational items to store your items, like extra shelving units, and also a fan because it can get hot in the summer. Since the rooms are big, residents have plenty of space to store these additional items. There is also a lot of wall space to hang a tapestry or post pictures and posters to add some personality to the room. There is a huge poster sale at the beginning of school where students can find an endless amount of decorations for their rooms at a low cost.

Richards also has a large and beautiful lobby with two lounges on each side. The lounge on the left is the study area where residents hang out with their laptops and do homework using the wireless internet. The lounge on the right is the TV lounge equipped with multiple couches and a flat screen TV where everyone gets together to relax. The laundry room is also on the first floor of the building, which gives residents easy access to clean their clothes. The room is very large and contains numerous washers and dryers for everyone to share and use. Make sure to load up your Gold Plus account, which is the easiest way to pay for laundry.


Most all of the first-year residence halls are located at the top of the mountain, and Richards is up there in the “quad,” which is comprised of Richards, Dravo, and Drinker. Luckily, Richards has the least amount of stairs to climb out of the three and also has a spacious green lawn to throw about a frisbee during the summer and to play in the snow in the winter. This residence hall is perfectly located to fulfill your late night munchies at Hawk’s Nest, and early morning dining at Rathbone. For the quickest route to Rathbone, you must climb the infamous “Death Stairs.” Each stair is approximately 11 inches tall (yes, I measured them during my first year), but you will have the glutes of a Greek God in no time! Richards is also very close to Taylor gym, a quick walk away from the Health Center and The University Center (UC).

Dravo Building Profile

Stats:  Dravo House is home to 258 first-year students. This co-ed five-story building is comprised of single-gender halls of double and single rooms, with a few triples.  There is a Gryphon on each hall and one Head Gryphon for the building.

All the rooms contain movable furniture and provide a bed, desk with desktop bookshelf, and desk chair for each student. Single and double rooms have one closet with drawers and shelves. Triples have an additional closet, dresser, and/or wardrobe.  Check out floor plans here!

Dravo House is the home of the first-year CHOICE Community, which promotes a healthy learning and living environment.  The sister area of Dravo is Richards House, another first-year residence hall.

“Like” Dravo’s Facebook page!

Building Profile: (by Louise McCallie)

Dravo may be at the top of the mountain, but I think students would agree it’s one of the most gorgeous dorms. It tops the campus with elegance, it’s the capstone of tours and brochures – but it’s also a great place to live.

The People/The Community:
I lived in Dravo this past year, and one of my favorite things was that there was always something going on. Whether you’re in the mood for ping-pong or going out, you can find someone to join you. Dravo students have a healthy mix interests; as the home of the first-year CHOICE community (substance-free living), there are always a wide variety of programs and entertainment options available in the building for . For example, this year I attended programs about healthy eating, campus safety, and scheduling; I joined a great group of first years for a “girls’ night in”; and I learned how to make mozzarella! Talk about excitement.

However, if all this excitement gets to be a bit too much for you, Dravo is well-supplied with study rooms and niches. Lounges on the ground, first, and second floors are tasteful, clean, and great places to grab a little peace and quiet.

Dravo’s Gryphons are a team of students that any first year would love to have on her side. In addition to organizing diverse program options, they serve as a helping hand and a friend whenever college starts getting a little too overwhelming. I never felt silly or stupid asking a Gryphon for help.


First years in Dravo often find they’ve gotten some of the best housing available. The rooms are relatively spacious (exact measurements can be found online) and come equipped with two beds, two desks, and a closet with a shoe rack and shelving. Beds can also be bunked, if you go to Residential Services to get bunking pins. Singles only have furniture for one person, while triples will have extra furniture and storage space.

Other facilities available in Dravo include a laundry facility, kitchen, vending area, and lounges. Halls and bathrooms are cleaned daily, and students generally keep the common spaces neat. Dravo’s lobby has easy access to important phone numbers (Gryphon-on-duty, etc.), and the door of the Assistant Director of Residential Life is frequently open if you have questions or concerns.


Dravo is located halfway between the two main dining halls on campus, and Hawk’s Nest (a popular spot for late-night snacks and entertainment) is at the foot of the hill. Linderman Library is just a short walk away, along with Access Control (in case you get locked out of your bedroom during the day—Gryphons can help you with lockouts after 8pm) and many of the academic buildings.


  • Command strips! But if it’s humid, they won’t stick as well.
  • Fan (no AC in Dravo)
  • A printer is good, but not required (discuss with your roommate beforehand)
  • Floor rug
  • Sturdy storage
  • The microfridge is a good option (you don’t have to lug a mini-fridge from home, PLUS you can use a microwave!)
  • Comfy shoes are a must!
  • Flip-flops for the shower are another important item

Upper Cents Building Profile

Stats: The Centennial I complex, also known as Upper Cents, is comprised of six buildings located directly across from the Rathbone Dining Hall.  Congdon, Emery, Leavitt, McConn, Smiley and Thornburg each house 44 students, with 22 students on each floor.  The buildings are co-ed, but the floors are single-gender.  There is a Gryphon on each floor, and one Head Gryphon for the area who lives in McConn.

In each room, each student is provided with a desk with desktop bookshelf, desk chair, bed, dresser, medicine cabinet with mirror, and a closet.  Check out floor plans here!

The sister area of the Centennial I complex is the Centennial II complex, also known as Lower Cents.

“Like” the Upper Cents Facebook page!

Building Profile: (By Joe Dinardo, Class of 2013)

The People

The general mood of the building is definitely positive. Upper Cents has a very homey feel and I think that people see that when they move in. Since the Upper Cents complex is separated into buildings, each building tends to stick together. My freshman year, Smiley was all male and there was a sense of pride and community that emanated throughout the building. I feel that that feeling is still there today. The best thing to do is to just go up to your hallmates, knock on their doors, and start a conversation.

The Atmosphere/Rooms

The lobby and lounge are great areas to meet new people. The lounge has a nice TV, where people can go to hang out. I remember people used to always bring their laptops down there and do homework as other people would watch TV, and everyone could just talk. It is a nice area to get work done as well as interact. I spent many hours in the lobby my freshman year.  That is when I honed my ping pong skills, and today, I owe all of my ping pong knowledge to that table in Smiley freshmen year.

When it comes to laundry, my advice is planning. You have to plan out when you will do your laundry because in Smiley, you only have one room to do it in. Aside from that, you have the community laundry room, which all of Upper Cents can use. This room is useful to have because it has plenty of washers and dryers, but it can be a hassle to walk to and from when it rains or snows because you have to go outside to access it.

For the rooms, I would advise to pack light. You will not have a lot of room just to yourself. Also, make sure to bring a power cord. Since there is either going to be one or two outlets, a power cord is crucial to have multiple electrical devices running at the same time. The fact that the floor is carpeted is a very nice touch that I have grown to miss, living in other residence halls.  It makes spilling more of an issue, but that is why I feel like people are less inclined to make a mess. Bringing or buying posters from the poster sale that they always have is also nice. I have learned that having your room decorated makes it feel much more comfortable and helps you get acclimated into the new atmosphere that you just entered.

The Location

Upper Cents is in a fantastic location. This was something else I did not realize, but have learned to appreciate as I have lived in other building areas. I lived at Rathbone my freshman year. Not only is it convenient that Rathbone is directly in front of Upper Cents, but a lot of people go to Rathbone. It is one of the two main dining halls, and it is open on the weekends. This was something I missed deeply this past year. Another reason that Upper Cents is in such a great location is that it is only a stair walk away from the gym. Also, for the business students out there, it is just a little farther walk past the gym to get into Rauch, the home of our business school. One of the great things about Lehigh is that you are never really more than a 10 minute walk from anywhere else on campus, but if you do need to go somewhere further like the Mountaintop Campus, the Taylor Gym shuttle bus stop is also right in front of the gym.


The desk can be moved around easily, and I found it most useful to put it along the wall, right at the head of my bed.  Most people did this, as the rooms in Smiley are longer than they are wide.  Also, an extension cord is something that every student should bring. I had to run out and buy one my first day.

M&M Building Profile

Stats:  McClintic-Marshall, more commonly known as M&M, houses 280 first-year students, who all reside in doubles.  The H-shaped building has three co-ed floors, each split into two single-gender wings.  Each floor has four Gryphons, two per wing, with one Head Gryphon for the building.

In the bedrooms, each resident is provided with a desk with bookshelf, desk chair, bed, closet with drawers, and a medicine cabinet with mirror. Check out floor plans here!

The sister area of M&M is Drinker House, a sophomore residence hall.

“Like” M&M’s Facebook page!

Building Profile: (by Katie Johnston, Class of 2012)

The People

Thanks to the building’s layout — three floors with two symmetrical wings — the McClintic-Marshall House, warmly called “M&M”, is known year after year for the communities formed both within each hall and between each floor. Throughout the year, the students, along with their Gryphons and their Assistant Director, form what they call the M&M bond, one that is strong even until their graduation days. Within that bond, though, friendly floor and hall competitions break out in events like flag football games and holiday decoration contests. Co-ed by hall, each M&M wing tests each other: who has the best hall? Despite the division, though, everybody knows that M&M is the best place to live on campus.

The Atmosphere/The Rooms

Although it is one of the largest first-year halls, M&M still creates the warm neighborly atmosphere, as students meet new people all year round in the common spaces shared by the building: floor lounges, a freshly renovated game room and kitchen area in the basement, and a large laundry room facility. The floor lounges provide central gathering spots for all M&M-ers, making them perfect for study group meeting locations or for gathering with friends in front of the TVs for the newest episode of your favorite show. In the warm months, the lawn in front of M&M becomes a retreat in the sun, with students studying while getting a tan. There is always activity happening inside and outside M&M at all times of the day!

Students often find that their rooms are a perfect alternative for some quiet time. Each roommate (two residents per room) has a wardrobe closet installation and built-in shelving that make up for the small floor space in storage, and the large windows bring in plenty of sunlight from the campus. However, M&M-ers often don’t feel confined to their desks, thanks to the installed wireless internet connections. The bathroom facilities are shared by hall members and are cleaned and stocked each week by the janitorial staff.


M&M’s prime location is a middle ground for all perks on campus. M&M students have a central location for reaching main dining locations on campus — M&M-ers can always find great food at any time in a short walk at places like the Hawk’s Nest in Lamberton or the Rathbone Dining Hall. Also, the building is not too much of a hike up the hill, so students can easily visit their rooms between classes. However, this hall is still a great starting point if students want to walk up the rest of South Mountain. A great advantage, too, is that classrooms are always down the hill, making it so much easier to wake up for those 8am classes!

Check out the Lower Cents Building Profile for more general tips about living in first year residence halls!

Lower Cents Building Profile

Stats:  The Centennial II complex, also known as Lower Cents, is located on the east side of campus below Rathbone Dining Hall. The complex is comprised of six individual buildings: Beardslee, Carothers, Palmer, Stevens, Stoughton, and Williams. Each building houses 44-54 first-year students.  Each building is co-ed, and there are co-ed and single-gender floors in this area. Stoughton and Williams each have one floor for men and one floor for women. Beardslee, Carothers, Palmer, and Stevens have co-ed halls with alternating single-gender rooms and single-gender bathroom facilities.  There is a Gryphon on each floor and one Head Gryphon for the area who lives in Palmer.

Most of the rooms are doubles, and there are a few triples and quads that feature private bathrooms. Each student has a desk with desktop bookshelf, desk chair, bed, dresser, medicine cabinet with mirror, and a closet. Check out floor plans here!

Lower Cents is also home to the  first-year Live.Learn.Serve community.  The sister area of the Centennial II complex is the Centennial I complex, also known as Upper Cents.

“Like” the Centennial II Complex’s Facebook page!

Building Profile: (By Connor Tench, Class of 2015)

I’m sure that you’ve heard this many times already (and that you’ll hear it many more times after this), but WELCOME TO LEHIGH! You’ve decided to come to a school with a competitive academic atmosphere, a rich history, a beautiful campus, and — most importantly — a diverse, intelligent, and friendly student body who are eager to have you join us this fall.

Quick intro: my name is Connor Tench. I’m originally from Allentown, PA (20 minutes away from campus), and I’ll be a sophomore this coming year, most likely majoring in computer science and minoring in music.

Keep in mind: some of what I’m going to say about my experience may be different from what you experience, because these things vary from year to year. But when I’m talking about something I know you can expect (for example, how everyone will be looking to make friends during the first few weeks and that this is a FANTASTIC time to talk to people), I’ll be sure to point it out.

First Impressions/Everyone is Looking to Make a Friend

My room was on the second floor of Beardslee; in a hall that would house about twenty people in a few days, it looked like only a few of us had moved in early. I had come to Lehigh three days before move-in day, because I was participating in a PreLUsion program (one of the programs that can get you on campus a few days early to meet some other first years).  I remember meeting Erin, Vicki, and Joe that day (Joe had graduated from a high school not too far from mine, so we had been in contact before), but I think the way I met Trey epitomizes how you’ll make friends come this August.

I had just unpacked and was getting ready to explore the building when I heard somebody playing bass in a room down the hall. As a barely competent bassist myself, I couldn’t help but stick my head in and see where the music was coming from. There sat Trey, slapping his Martin acoustic.

“Hi!” I said without even thinking, still looking at the bass.

“Hey!” Trey stopped playing, stood up, and introduced himself. We talked about music stuff for a few minutes, and realized we were both in the same PreLUsion program. Trey and I spent most of the next three days together, not because we actively sought each other out, but because we were going with the flow.

Three days later, when everybody had moved in, it was impossible to miss how quickly people wanted to bond with one another and make friends. A bad thunderstorm had come through that night, and everyone ended up hanging out in the lounge and watched movies together. None of this felt forced; we all just wanted to meet the people we’d be living with for the next year.

The main point: No matter where you live, you’ll find that making friends happens more naturally than you might think. As long as you treat other people kindly, there’s no doubt you’ll meet some fantastic people who’ll be friends with you for life.

I should note that Lower Cents’ dorms find a happy medium for size: they have enough people to keep things interesting, but not more than you’ll be able to get to know personally. Other first-year residence halls have hundreds of people, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I always enjoyed the fact that I knew and could talk to every one of the people living in Beardslee.

Gettin’ Physical: Building Specs/Room Descriptions

For those of you living in doubles: your room isn’t going to be huge, but it will comfortably fit you and your roommate without cramping the two of you together. Each room has two beds (duh), a desk with a bookshelf on it, a chest of drawers, corkboard for hanging posters (get posters! Personalize your room!), and closet space for you to hang clothing. You’ll have a bathroom shared by all residents of the same gender on your particular floor. Co-ed people, note that men’s and women’s bathrooms are separate. You’ll be living on the second or third floor of your building.

All of the above is the same for triples and quads, except for a few things. Your rooms will obviously be bigger; you’ll also have a private bathroom for the three/four of you to share. You’ll be living on the first floor. (And, obviously, there’ll be one bed for each person living there.)

Regardless of what kind of room you have in Lower Cents, there are a few things you should consider purchasing:

  • A small carpet: all bedroom floors in Lower Cents are tile, which gets a little cold in the winter. There’s nothing worse than getting up early for class and putting your bare feet on cold tile.
  • A whiteboard for your door: You can use this to leave messages for your hallmates, and to have other people leave messages for you. I know that sounds a little lame, but trust me – you’ll want to have one.
  • Rubbermaids or other plastic containers to organize your belongings: You’ll have less space than you expect to keep all of your stuff; organization is key, or stuff will go missing.
  • Stuff to personalize your room: this can include posters, photos, small décor things you find in Kohl’s, or whatever floats your boat. Two girls on my floor put up strings of white Christmas lights along the walls, and it looked fantastic. Get creative – you’ll be living in this room for a while, so you want to make it look good!

When you’re not hanging in your room, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending time in the lounge. All Lower Cents dorms have a single lounge on the first floor, which includes couches and chairs, a really nice TV, a small kitchen (with a sink, fridge, microwave, and oven that can barely hold a single cookie sheet),  some tables and chairs for studying, and either a pool table or ping-pong table (it varies by building). Your lounge will be a gathering place – people will gather to watch sports, The Voice, whatever new show the Kardashians are making, and anything else you can think of.

Gamers, rejoice: someone in your building will bring an N64 with Super Smash Brothers. There is no way this will not happen. You are going to play more of that game than is healthy for you. Those of you not familiar with Smash: you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. (Live long and prosper!)

Right off of the lounge is a study area with a whiteboard (you’ll have to provide your own dry-erase markers), a small table, and four of the coolest spinning chairs you will ever see in your life. It’s separated from the lounge by a brick wall, but more sound is going to travel through it than you’d think. Studying in there while a lot of people are in the lounge is difficult; if you need a quiet study space and the lounge is full of people, you should head for one of the libraries.

All the laundry machines for Lower Cents are located in Stoughton. If you don’t live in Stoughton, you’re going to have to walk across the courtyard to do your wash. This is, in my opinion, the major drawback of living in Lower Cents: in order to decide when you’ll do your laundry, you’ll have to take weather into consideration. It isn’t ideal, but you get used to it. (Those of you who live in Stoughton won’t have this problem.)

Location/Why Living Far from the Center of Campus Isn’t a Bad Thing

At first glance, living on the corner of campus might seem like you’re removed from everything, but nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll just be better acquainted with other areas than most people.

With the exception of Upper Cents, Lower Cents is the closest complex to Rathbone, one of Lehigh’s two primary dining halls. This is an absolute godsend during cold, rainy, or otherwise inclement weather – just climb up a staircase and you’ll have found food!

Those of you with early morning classes: Rathbone doesn’t open until 7:30. If you want breakfast before a 7:45 lab or other early class, you should go to Cort, which is in the University Center (that big building on the front lawn with the steeple).

Additionally, Lower Cents is the closest on-campus living space to Taylor Gym. There’s literally no stair climbing required to get there! (Although if you’ll only go to the gym because you don’t have to walk far to get there, you might want to re-examine your views on exercise.)

Lower Cents is located near Rauch Courtyard, which is home to the Rauch Business center and Zoellner Arts center, which respectively hold business and performing arts classes. I had choir rehearsals three times a week last year; living that close to Zoellner made getting rehearsal from Beardslee convenient. (Shameless plug: if you sing, or even if you don’t, try out for choir on move-in day. I did that on a whim and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.)

The libraries are going to be a bit of a hike away from your dorm. Linderman Library, Lehigh’s oldest library (which houses humanities books), is located close to the front lawn. Fairchild-Martindale Library, a newer library with engineering and science books, is located near Campus Square (almost a ten minute walk). While you aren’t right next to the libraries, walking to either of them is manageable.

I cannot stress enough how lucky you guys are to have the courtyard. It’s one of the only places on campus I can think of that has enough flat, grassy ground to be usable for tossing a ball or frisbee around– you’d have to go outside of STEPS or all the way over the mountain to find anything like it. So when the weather is nice, take advantage of it! Don’t waste your good fortune.


That’s about as much as I can meaningfully impart to you off the top of my head. If you think I’ve missed something (very possible), or if you have any questions about Lower Cents (or anything about Lehigh), please don’t hesitate to email me at I’ll do my best to answer the question; if I don’t know it, I’ll refer you to somebody who does.

Again, you guys have chosen an excellent school, and you’re living in what I think is the best complex on campus! (No bias here.) Get ready for what’s sure to be a memorable and fantastic year.

Housing Assignments

First-year students,

The time of housing assignments is upon us!  As many of you find out what residence halls you’ll be calling home for the 2012-2013 academic year, check out this blog for information about your buildings.  As I write this, a handful of students are writing profiles about each of the first-year residential buildings.  We’re excited to share these profiles with you to help you get a better feel for what your new home will be like!

Until we get those posted, connect with your future hallmates and building-mates on Facebook!

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments of this blog, on the Office of Residence Life Facebook, or tweet them to @LUResidenceLife.