The Freshmen Four: Darnall

Darnall Hall

If you’re reading this post, it probably means that you’re secretly flipping out for getting stuck with Darnall Hall as your freshman dorm. You’ve scoured the internet for information, and what you’ve found is a worst-ranked nightmare of rats, cockroaches and long treks to class. Fortunately, this infamous image of Darnall is nothing but a rumor, so now you can finally sit back and relax. Here, I’ll tell you what you really need to know, and I promise not to sugarcoat it.

Darnall is a medium-sized building with six floors that accommodate approximately 50 to 60 students each. The layout is a slight variation of your typical dorm. Rather than running as one long hallway, the floors are shaped like a box. Rooms line the outside of the box, and in the center you’ve got your bathrooms, elevators, stairs, trash room and common room. Each floor is split down the middle with girls on one side and boys on the other.

The RA’s room is always one of the rooms directly across from the common room. Use Housing-at-a-Glance to figure out where in the box you fall. There are pros and cons to each location, and once you figure out your room number you can think ahead to what your routine will be like. If you’re closer to the center of the floor by the common room, you can easily socialize, turn your room into a hangout spot and catch the nearby elevators quickly. If you’ve got a room towards the ends of the halls, you might be further from the action, but it’s a short trip to the bathroom (which comes in handy more than you think) and you don’t deal with as much noise at night.

Everybody who hasn’t actually lived in Darnall always complains about the time it takes to walk around campus. However, Georgetown’s campus is very compact, and a walk from Darnall to Red Square only takes about four minutes. Getting to Leo’s, the campus’s only dining hall, is sometimes a hassle in winter months and during rainy days, but you can cut through Leavey and Regents to walk inside for a portion of the trip. Even better, the epic Epicurian Restaurant is literally right beneath your feet. When a snow day comes around and every other freshman is forced to trek to the dining hall, you’re lucky enough to walk ten feet out of your dorm entrance and get better food than most. Epicurean takes flex dollars, which come with most meal plans, but be careful to budget yourself since you only have a set amount per semester.

While Lau may not seem worth the trip to go study, Leavy Center is only a minute or two away. You’re closer to this building than any of the other freshman dorms, so use this to your advantage. You can easily find study spots and visit the campus bookstore whenever you feel like it. The short distance makes it easy for Darnall residents to pick up a nice meal in Hoya Court and bring it back to your dorm to eat with friends.

A Typical Room

Each room is laid out about the same. When you walk in, two large closets are situated to your right and left. There are two bunkable beds and two desks attached to the wall on either side at the end of the room. There’s a built-in corkboard above the desks, which is great for hanging photos and reminders of what you need to do. Darnall rooms are blessed with ample storage space. There is a small dresser within the closet with three drawers. Your desk also has three large storage drawers and a smaller one for miscellaneous items, and above it attached to the wall is a cabinet and a large set of shelves. Directly across from the door on the other end of the room is a window that is bolted shut in most cases for safety reasons. The view is a hit or miss. If you’re placed in a room on the long sides of the rectangle, you’ll see either the hospital across the street or neighboring Henle buildings and a small grassy area. If you’re on the far ends of the dorm, you’ll either see more Henle apartments and the rest of campus or the suburbs and even the National Cathedral.

Find a floor plan of your room and your floor on your Housing-at-a-Glance page. There you’ll also find specific measurements for your room, but if you want measurements for more of the furnishings in a room, check here. GAAP’s residence hall tour video also gives a idea of what a lived-in Darnall room looks like.

There are two gender-separate bathrooms located on opposite sides of the floor. They each have five showers total, which sometimes can be an inconvenience. While there will always be an open shower to use, you’ll find that some are more preferable than others. Some showers have benches and hooks while others don’t, but you can get around this by buying the right shower supplies. While you may not have a space of your own anymore, the perk of communal bathrooms is that you don’t have to worry about buying cleaning supplies and scrubbing up someone else’s mess.

Lounges, Laundry and Other Amenities

The laundry room is located in the basement, which can sometimes be a hassle. The only way to get there is by elevator, and once down there you need to swipe your GoCard to call the elevator to take you up again. Since this is the only laundry room in the building, make sure to find a convenient yet unusual time to get your laundry done. Try to avoid weekend laundry visits when you know that everybody else will be vying for a spot. Georgetown has a Laundry Alert app that helps tremendously. It tells you how many dryers and washing machines are free and tracks when your own machine is done, which is invaluable when you’re trying to time your laundry just right.

Since each floor is rectangular in shape with the common rooms in the middle, these spaces become the center of dorm interactions. Each common room has a TV, several armchairs and couches, a coffee table and a dining table, and a small kitchen complete with a microwave, stove, fridge, and oven. The common room is an easy place to make friends, watch a movie, and do your homework with a group. The only downside is that the room tends to get very hot very fast when everybody’s inside of it. Make sure to prop the doors open to avoid getting overheated.

The Community

Believe it or not, Darnall’s bad reputation actually helps bring you closer together. When you tell other people what dorm you live in, you will most likely be received with hesitation and pity, but we know the truth. Since the amount of students per floor is smaller than that of some dorms like New South, you won’t feel overwhelmed trying to meet everybody. You’ll quickly come to know all the names of the people around you, and you become a big clique on your treks to Leo’s. Bond over how terrible everybody thinks Darnall seems, and you’ll already have an inside joke when only you know how awesome it actually is.

If you’re one of the people with rooms closest to the common room, weekends could either be a blessing or a curse for you. It does get loud in the common room, especially since the doors are normally kept open. The hallway also gets a little noisy when it becomes a hangout spot once in a while. Although quiet hours are in effect after certain hours of the night, remember that you’re living with college students. Make sure to talk to your peers and your RA to discuss what’s comfortable for you. I had a room just a door down from the entrance to the common room, and I never had problem with the noise that couldn’t be worked out in a few minutes.

All in all, it’s easy to make friends with people from Darnall. You’ll bond over the ridiculousness of the Darnall stigma, which at first is a huge advantage when trying to meet new people. However, try to socialize with people outside of your dorm once in a while. Darnall residents are notoriously close-knit, so branch out to make for a more open-minded freshman year.

What to Bring

Darnall already sets you up with a lot of the kitchen, bathroom, and room supplies that you’ll need, but think about bringing these items to help you out:

1) The bathrooms only have air dryers so I’d strongly suggest buying a couple of rolls of paper towels. You can’t even count how many times they come in handy to clean up spills and stains.

2) There’s only one overhead light in each room, and some rooms have harsher fluorescent lighting than others. Bring your own lighting to make you feel more comfortable and to give your room a cozier vibe.

3) Since the floors are rectangular, you never know where people will be and you might end up walking down the hallway to the bathroom at odd hours. Consider bringing a bathrobe to prevent any future embarrassment.

4) Shower benches and hooks are sometimes not reliable, so bring a durable shower caddy to put your toiletries in.

5) The rooms don’t have their own hooks apart from the one inside the closet, so make sure to bring your own attachable ones to conveniently hang jackets and bags.

6) Communicate with your roommate about possibly getting a full-length mirror. Make sure to buy the kind that hooks over doors to save room space.

7) Lastly, consider buying a doorstop. It’s easier to interact with others when you prop your door open and your room is inviting, which is handy in the first few awkward weeks of small talk. It also helps when you’re trying to bring large things in and out of the room and your door keeps slamming shut on its own.

About the author: Hannah Kaufman is a rising junior in the College. She called Darnall 620 home her freshman year.

Main photo: Ian Tice/The Hoya
Room photos: Alexander Brown/The Hoya

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