Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Dorms are Holding Your Kids Back

You may have thought it was the drinking, oversleeping, or laziness that\’s keeping your kid from getting good grades at the University of Wisconsin.  But, as the Wisconsin State Journal reports today, it\’s something much more insidious – it\’s the lack of walk-in closets in the dorms.

From today\’s article:

The newest multimillion-dollar residence halls on Madison campuses feature semi-private bathrooms, walk-in closets, wireless Internet connections and even spots for professors to hold office hours.

Such perks aren \’t luxuries these days, university officials say. They \’re essential for recruiting the best students and helping students to succeed.

Right.  Without these new Taj Mahal dorms, good students would just stop coming to the UW.  It continues:

Universities say they \’re putting up these multimillion-dollar buildings in part because they help students perform better.

No wonder my grades were so average in college – I had to share a bathroom with 20 other guys for a whole year!  Obviously, a more private and serene bathroom experience leads to more relaxed students, who can then retain information more effectively.

In fact, it is well known that Einstein was merely a so-so student.  What is less well known is that he was a lousy student because he had to share a bathroom.  Once he moved and first sat down on his own semi-private toilet, the theory of relativity just popped into his mind.

\”Students have expectations now about where they \’re going to live, and they \’re a lot higher expectations than they were 20 years ago, \” said Paul Evans, UW-Madison \’s director of housing. \”Many of these students have private bedrooms at home, maybe even their own bathroom, so they \’re making those kinds of comparisons.\”

Ooooh – many of these kids have PRIVATE BEDROOMS at home!  They can\’t possibly be expected to live with another smelly person in the room!  That might actually add to the college experience, where they learn to get along with people and actually leave their room every now and then.  Someone should call all the Chinese college students packed 10 to a room and tell them how they\’re underachieving as a result.  But do it before China actually owns the United States.

Finally, what does building all these fancy new dorms do to the UW\’s line that the state is pricing kids out of a college education?  With the differential housing costs for these posh new places, the system is only going to fuel income based segregation issues.  As John Edwards (not the psychic) likes to say, we\’ll have \”Two UWs.\”  And, knowing a little about how college students actually live, there\’s a good chance these fancy new places will be in bad shape in a few years.

Of course, the UW probably has a good case to renovate many of these dorms, or build new ones altogether.  Some of them are falling apart, and most of them are still coated with bong residue from the Vietnam Era.  But spare us the rhetoric about how it makes any actual difference in how students learn.  We\’re actually smart people – despite not having walk-in closets in our dorms.


  1. Rational Observer

    July 24, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Like it or not, UW-Madison is in a battle with peer institutions across the country for the best and brightest graduating seniors. Housing amenities are just one more factor where we haven’t been competitive.

    The good news for you fiscal conservatives it that there is no cost to the state to build these new dormitories. The differential cost is made up by setting the cost of the housing higher. Yes, the new construction benefits from using the state’s bond rating to borrow money at a lower rate, but the state won’t pay the cost of retiring the bonds — the students who live in the dorms will.

    This is free market system at work. I’m shocked that a Republican like you would reject it in order to take another cheap shot at the university.

  2. Private bathrooms?

    Half the fun of college is the communal athlete’s foot.

  3. RO:

    I know reading and understanding a whole post can be pretty hard, especially if you lived in a dorm without private bathrooms. So I will point out that I do actually recognize who will be paying for the new dorms – kids with more money. I also concede that building and maintaining dorms is necessary.

    But the argument that the dorms have anything to do with academic performance is preposterous. Deep down, under that UW cheerleading outfit, you know it.

  4. There’s already an economic divide when it comes to dorms at UW-Madison. The private dorms (Towers, Statesider) are full of mostly east coast students with a lot more money. The Coastie/Sconnie war has grown considerably since I got here in 2004.

    Ogg does need to be torn down, but they could have built two perfectly normal dorms instead of the luxurious one’s we now have. I don’t see why housing would be such a big issue when choosing a school. The standards at UW-Madison are going up every year — better grades and test scores are needed to get in. I’d say if you’re not willing to live in a not-so-amazing dorm then we don’t need you.

  5. Rational Observer

    July 25, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Christian, reading comprehension is apparently not one of your stronger suits. I posted…

    “Like it or not, UW-Madison is in a battle with peer institutions across the country for the best and brightest graduating seniors.”

    …and your replied:

    “But the argument that the dorms have anything to do with academic performance is preposterous.”

    That’s a complete non sequitur (you can look it up!).

    The modern dorms are an element in RECRUITING students, not in student performance.

    Can you follow me now?

  6. Whew, Christian — if that is your real name –you are completely out of touch with reality.

    *I* see the new dorms and find myself almost unable to breathe.

    But… they weren’t kidding. Kids will go out of state rather than share bathrooms.

    Now, you can complain about how spoiled the current crop of students is, and about how American parents have ruined their children by trying to give them all the stuff they never had as kids, and how …etc.


    But you know what? Your Limbaughian indignation is really wearing a little bit thin. You should stop using it.

    And we have 2 UW’s now. Take a closer look.

    Best wishes,

  7. “…The modern dorms are an element in RECRUITING students, not in student performance.

    Can you follow me now?”

    And the student’s performance, is NOT related to the demand to be taught here in Wisconsin? Why do they come here then?
    The crappy medical school? The law school for FoxNews tabloid reporters?

    A schools performance increases, in all aspects, from a higher demand for placement. When that happens, donations increase for research. Governments invest in these foreign students who bring back, to those nations, a level of education that increases that nation’s performance.

    I’m wondering if you are a high school kid? You make arguments like one. Trying to debunk Wisconsin Union donations by showing federal union donations?

    Why not compare a medical degree from Madison to say, one from Granada! What’s the US physician licnesing rate for our students compared to the Grandians?

    You’re MySpace page ( home of over 29,000 pedophiles) shows an excessive amount of promotions for the sophmoric tween comedy, Superbad.
    This from a 30-something father, holding a Master’s from a Catholic college. Hmmm…kinds makes us wonder.
    And who is this Debbie Does Dallas MySpace firend…that was a porn movie, wasn’t it?

    See how easy it is to debunk an apple with an orange?

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