February 6, 2022


8:52 p.m.

Eka or Echo? The Walls of Woodlawn Need Work

The poor construction of Woodlawn Residential Commons has resulted in an unlivable cacophony of stray voices and sounds, and the University needs to soundproof it.

I live in Woodlawn Residential Commons, the University’s newest dorm; in fact, this is Woodlawn’s first year operating at full capacity. New, however, does not mean perfect. There are many things about Woodlawn that draw ire: the cheap paint, the concrete ceilings, the elevators that frequently break down. I think anyone who lives in Woodlawn will tell you, though, that if they could fix one thing about our building, it would be the infamously thin walls.

For those unacquainted with the walls of Woodlawn (good for you!), they allow virtually every sound to pass through them, no matter how mundane or how soft. Every sneeze or cough, every zoom call, every normal volume conversation, every time you drop something and it makes a noise, every elevator ding from down the hall, every time someone uses the bathroom across the hall, every time someone anywhere in your hall opens their door–basically anytime you make a noise, your neighbors will hear it. I was once on FaceTime and despite the fact I was using headphones, the person I was calling could still hear my neighbors. Honestly, it’s almost as if the walls might as well not be there. This is problematic on several counts, but one is more concerning than most.

Many students are in therapy, including me. My therapy appointments are all virtual, which means I do them remotely. There are really no suitable nor appropriate places to do my sessions from on campus besides my room, so that’s where I do them. This is with great reservation, however. As I previously mentioned, the walls of Woodlawn allow pretty much every sound to pass through them, and unfortunately, that doesn’t stop happening even when you’re in therapy. I have had many conversations with fellow Woodlawn residents that have confirmed it is indeed possible and all too easy to overhear other people’s therapy sessions in Woodlawn. I personally don’t even feel comfortable talking about certain things in therapy because I know that when I go to therapy, I am essentially going to a session with my neighbors in tow.

Given we have nowhere else on campus to turn to, our rooms should act as a safe space for us to disclose confidential and sensitive information to people who can help us. Living in Woodlawn means that anything you say can and will be heard by whoever you live next to or whoever happens to be standing in the hallway at the time.

For the nation’s most expensive university, these walls certainly disappoint and frankly would injure the reputation of even the nation’s worst university, never mind one of its top 10. They are in no way acceptable for everyday living and do not block even a remotely appropriate level of sound. I invite members of the University administration to spend a day and night or two in a student room (I’m sure there’s an empty room or two in this building) and deem whether these walls are acceptable for daily living, never mind handling phone calls on confidential matters or their own therapy sessions.

We, the residents of Woodlawn, deserve better. At the very least we deserve some more privacy. Those of us who wanted singles got four walls, but we also got roommates because frankly, the walls might as well not be there. I very strongly yet respectfully ask that the University, in a timely manner, implement a plan to soundproof Woodlawn. We should at the very least expect more privacy than our walls currently permit, and we should not have to be subjected to this for an entire year (or more) because of some poor design and livability choices likely made for the sake of frugality. Please, for our privacy and our sanity, soundproof Woodlawn.


Jakob Gilleylen is a first-year in the College.