Where Oles sleep and hang out

When it comes to late-evening socializing and partying at St. Olaf College, it all seems to be about the dorms.

Almost everyone lives on campus, either in the dormitories or in "honor houses" on the outskirts. (The administration "encourages" students to dorm it, spokesman David Gonnerman told me, and a student said you have to ask for an exemption to live off campus.)


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MPR Photos / Alex Friedrich

All this for two people

For senior Amelia Schoeneman, an environmental studies and political science major, that means living in a Ytterboe Hall "pod" -- 10-12 people sleeping two to a room and sharing a common living area.

Each hall has several pods, kitchen and computer room with printer, copier and scanner. Her pod shares a large bathroom with another pod, and the dormitory has a spacious (though spare) lounge.

For freshman biology major Steven Wett, it means sharing a triple bunk bed with two other guys in a Hoyme Hall dorm room.

It's larger than the normal dorm room, having been a converted computer facility, he said. The guys spend the day in the large common living room, and bunk in a tightly packed smaller side room.

The guys do fine. Though the campus offers movies, they've assembled their own home theater with large speakers in the corner, a projector and pull-down screen.

Wett and other students say the dorms do the job, but are nothing to write home about. (That said, my university's were so drab that even freshmen to fled to off-campus apartments.)

But Shoeneman wouldn't live any other way. Though not everyone may get along with their roommates (a classic problem), she and her podmates are pretty tight, hanging out together and even throwing pod dinners.

And remember St. Olaf is set apart from the rest of town. You can get to Northfield on foot, but she told me:

"Everybody lives in a dorm, and all my friends are here. I don't want to live off campus."