For dorm rooms, triples are better than singles. Triples offer opportunities for cultural exchange, learning to get along with people, making friends, and are more affordable and accessible.
I’m a third-year student living in a triple in Blake Hall, and I’m grateful for it all: not only that I got on-campus housing, but that UC San Diego Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH) decided to give me a triple in a residential hall. This surprised me at first, but I thought “might as well make up for what Zoom university took from me.”
The result: I’m gradually learning Spanish and Russian. I also find joy in teaching my roommates Japanese. I got interested in the various states of India and their diasporas in the United States. I talked with Chinese students and learned about their experiences and perspectives while sharing with them mine. All in my free time, when I might’ve otherwise been browsing random YouTube videos.
The special thing about triples is that it positively molds your personality to be more flexible, and social. Introversion isn’t inherently a weakness, but extroversion has its advantages, and even introverts can and should learn to be social because it extends one’s network and knowledge. In a triple, you have people who may do things you were always too shy to do, like perhaps singing. But once you hear them doing it, you might think something like, “Regardless of how bad or good they sing, I don’t judge their entire character based on that. Then why should I be worried that others will do the same to me?” And once that clicks, you’ll be a lot more open to try many things.
Another thing is that while in a triple, I’ve been a lot more courteous. Being in a triple teaches you to think about other people which is an important skill to have, especially if you want to get married, or just make friends. People who used to not wash their hands after the restroom started washing their hands. Triples may also keep people from strewing trash all over their room or staying up late way past what is healthy for them because of the social pressure from roommates. One may argue that this pressure is bad because it forces people to conform to the social norm. However, not all social norms are unreasonable, and conforming to the rational norms such as maintaining personal hygiene would be a good thing for both the individual and society.
On the other hand, triples do bring up health concerns. However, these concerns are not as significant as one would think. Think of all the other times you might put yourself at risk of getting COVID-19. When you eat lunch with friends and take off your masks while talking face-to-face with each other, you increase your chances of getting COVID. When you ride the bus or the Geisel elevator, although the exposure time is shorter, you’re packed at a density perhaps 10 times that of a triple. Not to mention you’re riding with strangers, which makes it harder to know whether they’ve been exposed to COVID or perhaps are asymptomatic. My point is that given how most people I observe carry out their daily lives, I don’t think living in a triple would significantly increase your chances of getting COVID or monkeypox as long as you don’t share towels or beds.
While some may find it annoying or even offensive to live with people who are different, I would argue that triples are a way to teach us to work around our differences and find ways to connect with each other, making these annoying feelings akin to the feelings an elementary schooler may have towards homework. Maybe I’m just lucky enough not to have met the “roommate from hell,” but I’ve found that most people at UCSD are reasonable to communicate with. After all, the advantage of going to a university is that all the people admitted should have passed through a rigorous selection process, ensuring quality in character, thus allowing us to safely open up to each other. We can learn and teach more efficiently without having to worry about being judged or harmed.
Finally, there’s the cost aspect. Many college students can’t afford to spend extra money on housing nor extra time on hour-long commutes and finding parking. Triples allow more students to receive affordable and accessible on-campus housing by simply increasing density. This cost reduction, along with the additional benefits of cultural exchange, social skills, and friendship make triple dorms the bargain deal. Maybe we should even extend it to four-person rooms or above.
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