Residence Halls Dedication Speech: Lauri Valerio '12
This speech was delivered on October 1, 2011, at the dedication of Pomona Hall and Sontag Hall, Pomona's two newest residence halls. Read more and view photos from the dedication program.
My name is Lauri Valerio. I'm a current senior, majoring in English and preparing to graduate and embark on a career in journalism. I am one of the "lucky ones" who is living in the new residence halls this year. In fact, I've been living here since June. I worked at the CDO and I--along with some other lucky students--got to move into my dorm room in Sontag over the summer. Since then, I've gotten a pretty good feel for what these residence halls are like and what they mean for Pomona.
Earlier this week, I was chatting with some friends who live in Claremont McKenna's Beckett Hall, right across the street. When one of them found out that I live in the new residence hall, she sighed, like they always do, and said, "It's so not fair. We're living here in Motel 6 while you're in the Trump Towers right next to us." She's right in one sense: It is pretty spectacular living. This is something I hope my classmates and I never take for granted.
However, she's not completely right. There are so many quirky things that make these residence halls less like a hotel and more like Pomona. The multitude of common spaces and suites create a sense of community that I've never had before in a residence hall. My suitemates and I regularly hang out in our common room until midnight. This isn't something we have to plan. It's spontaneous community and the dorms were built to facilitate this.
The design of these halls makes everything so easy. If I want to be energy efficient, I literally just flip a switch. If I want to have a picnic, I can step outside to this field or go up to the rooftop garden. If I want to have a movie theater experience without dishing out cash for a movie ticket, I can mosey on down to the lounge in Pomona Hall. If I want free coffee, I can drop by the Outdoor Education Center. (Of course, there are a few other things the OEC can do for me, like funding and outfitting the fall break trip I'm leading in a few weeks.)
I've already been collecting memories here. I watched fireworks from the rooftop garden on the Fourth of July. I've roasted marshmallows on a grill and rolled down that tiny hill over there. I love to read on the porch swings, dip my feet in the fountain, and hang out my window to watch particularly beautiful sunsets--or to watch people run away when the sprinklers turn on right around 12:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Of course, the buildings aren't without some surprises. Though the walls are gloriously thick, unfortunately the bathroom ceilings aren't. Over the summer, my suitemates and I gathered outside our shower to listen to an operatic singer on the floor above us. The wonderfully huge beds are actually too big to turn sideways in my room, and . . . who decided to put huge concrete pillars in the middle of some rooms? Yes, I know they do keep the building standing. After a summer in which the air conditioning was adjusting to the building as much as we were, I can happily say that now, when it's almost no longer necessary, the air conditioning is working beautifully.
Even though we can joke about these things, I know that some of them are inevitable and trust that others have a well-planned purpose. These buildings are the most purposeful, well-designed and well-thought-out buildings I have ever seen. Though this is a great transition from dorm living to apartments, I know, because of the beauty and functionality of these residence halls, that we will face a rough transition from this to the real world.
Thank you all, and truly thank you to the architects and all the donors who have helped to build this small community within the large community of Pomona College.