Kelsey Rohwer: Exploring Pelham’s positives

It is becoming quite clear that the only – and I mean only – problem with GW’s newest residence hall, Pelham, is that it is on the Vern. If Pelham nested more conveniently in Foggy Bottom, students would be selling their BlackBerrys on the street if it meant they could live there. But truthfully, a heavenly place such as Pelham could only be located on the Vern. After all, what is the point of rehearsing in your own black-box theater if an ambulance siren shrieks every 15 minutes?

I would think that everyone at this point is well aware of Pelham’s luxuries, but in case headphones haven’t left your ears since last April, I will indulge you. By living in Pelham Hall, residents will have unique access to a brand-new fitness center, recording studios and independent rehearsal space, in addition to laundry facilities on every floor and student study rooms. For those residents more artistically inclined, Pelham offers a black-box theater and an art studio. In other words, Pelham is like a small, artsy boarding school.

Unfortunately, Pelham’s one vice is a decisive one in the eyes of most GW students. The response commonly given to the question, “Would you live in Pelham?” as I overheard on the Vern express, is, “It’s awesome, but it’s on the Vern.” I am here to tell you that yes, Pelham is awesome, and its location should not by any means deter you from deciding to live there.

The Vern has developed a misconstrued reputation for being this far-off place with no real connection to the University. The college experience on the Vern is supposedly lesser than that of Foggy Bottom, and thus, the Vern is viewed as a disadvantage.

In reality, the Vern has many advantages that go unnoticed by the typical visitor from Foggy Bottom, who gets off the shuttle only to get back on it 45 minutes later. These resources, unique to the Vern, make Pelham Hall a worthy housing investment.

For instance, Ames Dining Hall. Equipped with restaurant-style booths, an exhibition station and a refreshingly accommodating environment, Ames is simply better than J Street. Although Ames Dining Hall is going to be transformed into an academic building, the same friendly service and atmosphere will be accessible to Pelham residents in the new food court, which will be located in the new residence hall. With the exception of Ivory Tower and Potomac House, no other residence hall has accessible dining directly beneath it.

A quick stroll from Pelham brings you to the Vern’s second perk: Eckles Library. Trading Gelman’s graffiti and empty Starbucks cups for cozy swivel chairs and clean carpets, Eckles is ideal for productivity. Additionally, Pelham itself houses 10 study rooms. And yet, despite Pelham’s convenient location, providing easy access to both exceptional dining and study facilities, the largest problem seems to be the location of the Vern itself. Generally seen as inconvenient, the 15-minute journey comes with some unexpected benefits. For one, the ride could be a brief solution to last night’s procrastination or lack of sleep. Plus, keep in mind that a good playlist can change anything.

As students of this University, we have established the mentality that living on the Vern is an inadequate college experience; it’s seen as a trap, destroying all social opportunities. To change this biased and false mentality, you simply have to live on the Vern. The University itself seems to understand this, as it appears it is using Pelham to reintroduce the Vern as the incomparable living experience that it is. However, the fact that Pelham seems to have received minimal response from students is a reminder of the same negative mentality all over again.

Though primarily built for freshmen, the University is hoping to also house sophomores, juniors and seniors in Pelham. With the continuing judgmental view of the Vern, however, the University will be lucky to get 20 students. No other living opportunity will offer the resources and advantages that Pelham does, but the fact that students don’t realize this is indicative of a larger problem for the University’s ambitions for the Vern. But regardless of these ambitions, students need to get one thing through their heads: The fact that Pelham is on the Vern should not be a reason to live elsewhere.

The writer is a freshman majoring in journalism.

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