Cushing 151A is a parlor on the east side of the dormitory. Or rather, it used to be one.
In its heyday, it was a communal space used and beloved by all of Cushing’s residents and visitors. However, when more admitted students enrolled in the Class of 2023 than expected, it ended up significantly larger than previous classes. As such, the College was forced to find more creative sources of accommodation, one of which was converting several universally loved parlors into freshman quads: two in Main, and one in Cushing. That’s where I come in
As an incoming freshman, I had assumed I’d get a double. All of my friends already in college had made it clear: In your first year, you’ll get a double. If there’s no space, you might get a triple, and you’ll suffer for the whole year because of it. I spent a good few days wondering who my roommate might be, what might happen if I found two names in my housing assignment email, and how I’d cope if I did. After all, it had been drilled into me that the fewer roommates, the better.
Opening my assignment email and reading three names was a shock. After briefly notifying my family of my fate (and receiving their condolences), my roommates and I made a group chat and started puzzling over why we had all been put together. Maybe Vassar had quads this whole time—and we just never heard about it? Maybe two room assignments were accidentally combined— and we weren’t actually in a room together? Maybe they were trying out quads for some reason this year—and that’s why we hadn’t heard of people in quads before? Conspiracies ran wild.
After a few hours, we finally received our answer. Fan-favorite Assistant Dean and Director of Student Conduct and Housing Rich Horowitz informed the four of us via email that our room was once a common space, but had been converted to a quad to accommodate the large incoming class. To my delight, he also noted that each one of us would “…probably have more square feet of room space than anyone else on campus…by far.”
Horowitz’s claim rings with truth; the room is by far the largest dorm room I’ve seen (so far in a short-lived existence at Vassar). In fact, my student fellow group now
uses it for our weekly meetings because it’s the largest private space we have.
Because our lodgings was once a parlor, it comes with certain eccentricities. Some features are universally acclaimed, namely the couch built into the wall and the common space in the middle room for all of us. However, it also has a few…shall we say, lessthan-adored traits.
The east side of the room has several windows that span a huge distance, providing us a lovely view of the cemetery across the street, teamed with every ray the sun can muster at six in the morning on the one day you try to sleep in. As one of the windows is next to a back entrance, we also occasionally get taps on the window from locked-out residents who need us to open it from the inside. This isn’t a problem at all, but I will admit it’s a little disconcerting to hear a knock on your window at midnight and turn to see a face staring at you.
The Office of Residential Life did a wonderful job of removing the old furniture and placing ours in convenient locations. However, in the rush of prepping each room for the beginning of the year, they only supplied us with a single lamp. The desks all come with their own lights, as is standard for Vassar furniture, but besides those dimmerthan-my-future reading lights and the single floor lamp, we were left in the dark. Luckily, I came a few days before move-in day to see the room, and so I knew to buy another lamp ahead of time and notified my roommates to do the same. I’m sure that the school would’ve provided us with more lamps had we asked for them, but given the frenzy they were undoubtedly dealing with at the beginning of the school year, we all elected to just buy lamps and get it over with.
When people talk about the quad, they tend to cast living in it as some unique form of torture. How could you get any privacy in a quad? What kind of fresh hell would having to decide on a lights-out time be?? What if they snore???
Privacy isn’t an issue; unless you have a single, you don’t have that privacy anyway. Schedules aren’t an issue; everyone sleeps and wakes as they please, and the only real issue I’ve run into thus far is that my roommates are uncannily skilled at finding the worst possible alarm ringtones to use. I had expected that lights-out time would be a contentious issue living in the quad, but the four of us have come to an elegant solution: I deal with your snoring and you deal with my lamp on. In short, it’s not perfect, but everything generally works out alright.
The only real issue I have with living in 151A is dealing with its notoriety. The parlor was loved by many, and when the school year started, the groupies flocked back to see what it has become—or, for some, because they were unaware of the parlor’s demise. For the first few days, new visitors would come several times a day. We never denied anyone a chance to see the room, but after a while, the endless repetition of “Wow, your room is so big!” and “Did you know your room used to be a parlor?” started to grate against my soul. Everyone is still invited, but if you do, please note that we are well aware of the room’s size and history. You don’t need to remind us. In fact, It’s escalated to the point where our student fellow group has made a meme out of it; our student fellow even put a sign on our door announcing that we know it used to be a parlor to try and save us from our eternal suffering.
I honestly don’t think much of my room’s history anymore, but occasionally I’ll pause and realize just how cool living in a quad is. When I first got my room assignment, I was sure I would hate it. After nearly a month in it, though, I’m personally really glad that I ended up where I did. If you’d like to see it for yourself (as long as you don’t mention its past), you’re welcome to visit 151A anytime.