'Dorm life is not perfect' - Why Kaneko isn’t all that special
If you don’t live in Willamette’s Kaneko, the newest dorm equipped with air conditioning and balconies, you probably think it’s the fanciest dorm on campus. But if you do live in Kaneko, you perhaps long for the other dorms and their community connection and character, as well as the convenience that comes with not having to walk 15 minutes across the Sky Bridge just because you forgot a book.
Allie Jakubauskas (‘27), a Kaneko West Wing resident, described her experience living in the dorm so far. “I really love it. We have balconies, which I’m a big fan of,” she said. However, Jakubauskas did admit that the walk is slightly inconvenient. “If I’m leaving to go, I’m leaving for the day,” she said. “It’s good motivation to get out and stay and finish my work.”
When speaking with Jakubauskas, it became clear how attitude and preference shaped a lot of people’s opinions on where they live. Ellie Norman (‘26), who lived in Kaneko during their first year, said they prefer their windows in Doney because the windows in Kaneko are the balcony doors. Norman didn’t like how “you have to open [the doors] and see everything.” Conversely, Jakubauskas mentioned she’ll “just go out there and do yoga on the balcony.”
When it comes to the older dorms on campus, no one knows them quite as well as Kaiona Apio (‘24), who has been living in the older dorms for the last four years and is now the Community and Resident Advisor (CRA) for the Matthews Complex. As the CRA, Apio is the one to go to when there’s a problem in the dorm. For example, “When we got back in the fall, there was no hot water,” Apio explained. Due to all their years living in dorms, they know how to sum it up pretty well. “Dorm life is not perfect,” they said. “I think it depends on the perspective you come in with.”
Though Kaneko has newer dorms and AC, its residents have a further walk from campus and less community in the dorm. Even Jakubauskas admits that if she couldn’t live in Kaneko, her next pick would be “Matthew’s or Belknap because it’s central.” However, Ami Bisping (‘26), the Resident Advisor for Terra House—the dorm that arguably got hit the hardest with the cold water fiasco—said, “It was a challenge with everyone moving in and doing training and having to shower in cold water.”
Despite surviving the two weeks of cold showers, Bisping explained why she loves Terra: “Community gatherings are just really easy when you’re in halls that have common areas that are accessible to everyone.” Bisping described how she felt it could be difficult to achieve the same thing in a larger dorm, like Kaneko. This sentiment exemplified how every dorm has positive and negative attributes and captured the idea that many of the people interviewed shared. Apio explained how older buildings will have more problems, but “the older dorms have more character.” Jakubauskas agreed, stating, “I think Kaneko has a nicer look, but I think the dorms have a warmer vibe.”
After speaking to residents, RAs and CRAs regarding the differences between Kaneko and the older dorms on campus, it’s clear that it simply doesn’t matter. Dorm life is not going to be smooth sailing, regardless of whether your dorm has a balcony or not. You might have to walk fifteen minutes to your class, or you might have to master the art of a speedy army shower because the water won’t heat up, but that’s what makes the dorm experience a memory and allows residents to form connections and bonds. The differences between Kaneko and other dorms don't matter because they represent, at its core, the classic college dorm experience.