The college mattress-off: single versus double beds

Jessica Gordon, a freshman living in a Madison double, falls out of her dorm bed sometimes.

Gordon is not alone with her qualms about life with a twin bed. Freshman Brianna Sacks, also accustomed to a queen bed, said, “It would be nice to have more space to move around.”

GW is the only school in the District to be recognized for its residence halls by the Princeton Review – GW snagged the third spot on the college guide’s “Top 10 Dorms Like Palaces” list – but across-town peers at American could prove to be future competition.

The university’s newly renovated apartment-style residence hall, Nebraska Hall, houses 115 upperclassmen, each of whom receives a full bed.

Full beds were at the top of the list for amenities that AU students wanted in a residence hall, said Chris Moody, the executive director of Housing and Dining Programs at the university.

“We looked at what would keep students as part of the campus community,” Moody said.

The effort to keep students on campus proved successful. This is the highest year in history of retaining students on campus at AU.

Several other colleges across the country have also begun to offer full beds. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth have each upgraded over the past few years and boast full beds.

GW students living on campus should not anticipate bigger beds anytime soon though. Director of Campus Support Services, Nancy Haaga, wrote in an e-mail that “the addition of full beds is not contemplated at this time.” She listed physical constraints, such as size, shape and space, among deterrents.

Most students attest to the fact that full beds would either be impossible to fit into a dorm or would produce a very cramped space. Full beds are typically 54-by-80 inches long, or 15 inches wider than a twin. Adding four full beds to a room would require at least 60 inches – 5 feet – of additional space.

Gordon said that her Madison double is too small to comfortably fit full beds, but if she had to choose between space and a bigger bed, she would choose the bed.

“A twin is good for the space, but I might as well have a nice place to sleep.”

A full bed would not fit in freshman Bennett Willis’s room either, but it would be convenient to have one when hanging out with friends.

“When we’re watching a movie, I feel bad because someone always has to sit on the floor,” she said.

Some students said that larger beds would fit nicely in their dorms. Freshman Keenan Marshall said there would be “more than enough space” to fit four full beds in his Thurston quad.

Even students who have never had a full or queen bed welcome the idea. Adam Luwisch, a junior living in New Hall, had a twin bed at home. “A full bed would be better for companionship,” he said.

Haaga said that “GW has made major investments in constructing new residence halls that are attractive and provide great amenities for students.” Among recently built halls are Potomac House and Ivory Tower.

Tyler Somes, a freshman living in Lafayette, is one student who couldn’t care less about having a full bed: “Maybe if I was really fat I’d want a bigger bed, but I’m pretty apathetic.”

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