Are College Roommates a Thing of the Past? The Burlington Housing Situation Gets Inexplicably Worse

BURLINGTON – As Vermont colleges continue to struggle with how and whether to open in the Fall, Burlington’s two schools, Champlain College and the University of Vermont, have made plans to address social distancing and safety for its residential students.

The University of Vermont will turn all of its doubles and triples into singles. This will create a significant shortage of beds for residential students. Initially, UVM thought it would ease its on campus requirements for Freshman and Sophomores and send all of these students to off campus housing. It quickly realized this was unrealistic since its juniors and seniors already occupy 99.5% of all residential rentals in Burlington. The other .5% are already booked as Airbnbs for the Fall foliage season.

Instead, given they are no longer needed by the hospital, the University will assume responsibility for the beds that had already been set aside for COVID patients in Patrick Gymnasium.

 Students will be given their own bed, a chest of drawers, computer desk and port-o- potty. Each port-o- potty will have a special garden hose hook up to allow for showers. A UVM spokesperson indicated that port-o-potties will support the University’s sustainability efforts. “Better”, she reported, “to recycle beer into chemical waste removal facilities then have them flowing from urinals, to sewers into Lake Champlain.”

If there is still a need to house more students, they will be bunked at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Beds will be set up over the ice. Only students from Vermont will be housed there. “After all, the spokesperson added, “they are used to the cold.”

 Champlain College is taking a different tack.  Its spokesperson reported that the college will not alter its residential housing structure. 

The Champlain spokesperson advised that, “We think it crucial to preserve the residential college experience. For Champlain students, most of whom major in cybersecurity and gaming, that typically means they never come out of their rooms.” The spokesperson added, “Our students are geeks and proud of it. They never need to socialize in the flesh.”   Instead, Champlain students are well known to sit in their rooms dimly lit only by their laptops or desktops, hacking away at military websites, solving Vermont cold cases or playing on Fortnight. When they do emerge from their rooms it is to go downstairs in their pajamas or sweats to pick up their daily Domino’s delivery (or for students whose parents provide a better allowance, Leonardo’s).

Furthermore, they are typically housed in former Victorian mansions where large rooms allow the six feet between one student’s desk and bed and their roommates. Bathroom and shower visits will be scheduled on a student developed app.

The Champlain spokesperson concluded the interview by summarizing Champlain’s new core value.  “Let us dare to let students learn from the necessary isolation to survive in the COVID world. We look forward to their return in the fall.”

In order to assess the student view of these developments this reporter went virtual and found a UVM and Champlain student in Second Life.

The UVM student, who is, not unexpectedly, involved in the STEM Program, was located at the cyber Delta Tau Chi fraternity from Animal House. Their avatar is a Budweiser Clydesdale. “Dude, we are all in and waiting for beer pong on center court.”

I tracked down the Champlain student, a Steve Jobs avatar, in Jobs’ parent’s garage where he invented the Apple computer in 1976. “Look,” the student earnestly said, “if Steve could stay in his garage for days on end without eating anything but pizza, I certainly can do that in a college dorm room.”

Mayor Weinberger applauded both plans. “We need the vitality that the students bring to Burlington. I will, however, appoint separate committees to look at certain concerns. The first will explore allegations that Champlain students are really cyborgs funded by the dark web. The second will determine whether the noise that will emanate constantly from Patrick Gymnasium and Gutterson Fieldhouse will exceed acceptable safety levels. I am confident neither committee will make a finding that is averse to this plan. If Champlain students are cyborgs, they clearly have the technology not to have this discovered. As for the noise levels, earbuds, and texting have significantly reduced noise levels since no one talks to each other anymore. Besides, this has a high noise threshold to meet versus the F-35s.”