The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Living in Jeanne Mance ruined my first semester

Carolyn Hultz

It’s no secret that UVM does not have the best housing. 

It’s also no secret that some dorms are worse than others. 

When I first got my housing assignment—Jeanne Mance, “the Gaming Collective”—I ran to google my dorm, and the results were disappointing. 

One of the first results of my search was a Society 19 article that ranked Jeanne Mance as the worst dorm on UVM campus. After living here for over a semester, I can definitely agree.

First, I have to deal with the embarrassment of saying I live in Jeanne Mance everytime I meet someone new. “You’re in the gaming collective?” is the typical response along with some shocked expression or disgusted body language. 

The next thing I am typically asked is, “Is it really that bad?” And my answer is, of course, “Yes.”

The dorm has its basic aesthetic problems that I, at first, wrote off as endearing: the mold on the ceilings, an elevator that shakes violently upon reaching its destination and cobwebs in the corners. 

However, the dorm being a little rundown is far from its only problem, and I can link it to the number one reason my first semester was so miserable: isolation. After all, the dorm was used to quarantine students during the pandemic. 

Jeanne Mance is very far from the rest of campus. I am a 15-minute walk from the nearest dining hall, Central Dining, and a 30-minute walk from Patrick Gym. I’m also far from Athletic and Redstone, where most of my social life at UVM takes place. 

If I were a sophomore with an established friend group and already enmeshed in school clubs, maybe the distance would not be as much of a problem. However, most of the residents in Jeanne Mance are first-years, and many of their grievances are the same as mine. 

“I hate how inaccessible it is to disabled people,” said first-year resident Max Wilson, in reference to the lack of a bus stop. 

Having no bus not only makes it annoying for able-bodied residents, but some students, like Wilson, are forced to be left in pain from walking by the time they reach their class. 

“If you’re going to write anything, write ‘make a bus stop for Jeanne Mance,’” said another resident, first-year Frankie Guachione. 

For a school that prides itself on its progressive values, having inaccessible dorms is disappointing and unacceptable. 

Another major issue is the pricing for the dorm. I was randomly placed here, and as of fall 2023—my first semester—I was paying the same amount as those with gyms, dining halls and AC in their dorms. 

UVM seems like it is trying to rectify this problem by implementing a tier system with “standard,” “enhanced” and “premium” rooms, according to  the UVM Reslife page

Jeanne Mance is ranked as a “standard” hall, based on its lack of amenities. Dorms like Living and Learning are ranked as “enhanced” for its dining amenities and Central Campus Residence Hall is “premium” for amenities such as AC and gyms.

While I think that this new tier system is a positive change, as it increases the overall fairness of housing, I am still upset by the fact that I spent a year paying the same amount in a now “standard” dorm as students did in “premium” dorms. 

The first semester of college is always rough. Adjusting to living on your own, making friends and the deceivingly difficult 101 classes are among the many parts of what make first-semester first-year so difficult. 

I, of course, struggled with all the first-year difficulties, on top being so far from everyone and everything on campus. 

“It’s so hard to make friends when they’re a trek away,” said first-year resident Sloane Rosenthal.

Even in my second semester, despite having joined more clubs and made more friends, I still struggle with feeling separated from the rest of campus. 

Whenever I find myself on Redstone or Athletic campuses, I am shocked by how lively everything seems. On the sunny days I see people lounging on their hammocks, and on the snowy ones I see freshly-made snow angels and snowmen. 

I can tell that the school tried to make Jeanne Mance as nice as possible. The staff that work here are very kind. However, it is not enough to combat its isolation and unfairness. 

“Standard,” is not what I would use to describe Jeanne Mance. In my opinion, the dorm is below average compared to other residence halls at this school and others with similar tuition. 

Perhaps those who live in Jeanne Mance receive more retail points to make up for the distance to dining halls. Also, adding a bus stop would make the dorm feel much less isolated and improve its accessibility.

Overall, UVM needs to be more open about the quality disparity of their dorms. 


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