Knock, knock, knock.
“Housing!” announced Aramis Douglas and Carling Wilson each time they knocked on freshman residents’ doors at Lockmiller Apartments at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
They weren’t there for surprise inspections or to address complaints on Tuesday afternoon. They were popping in for UTC House Calls, a longstanding door-to-door check-in each semester with students living on campus.
“Most are smart enough not to answer the door,” joked Wilson, assistant director of occupancy management, who’s worked in UTC housing for more than a decade.
When they did, however—and they did—she and Douglas, resident director at Lockmiller and Stagmaier Hall, asked questions like:
“How you doing?” and “Do you know about room assignment for the fall?”
A dozen other volunteer faculty and staff were spread throughout all 10 residence halls at UTC doing the same thing.
“It’s a nice way for faculty and staff to see students in their space,” Wilson said.
Spring House Calls mostly tell students about the room assignment process for the upcoming fall semester, while the fall calls focus on making sure students know about key campus resources.
Students living in Lockmiller now, for example, can’t call it home again next year because it’s strictly for freshmen.
Wilson said UTC housing is considered some of the best by students in Tennessee because most rooms are clustered into four-bedroom apartment set-ups vs. old-school dormitories. It’s why groups of four students who want be roommates get first dibs on where they live.
Another perennial message from the housing office to campus dwellers, according to Wilson, is about living thoughtfully. Don’t let your dirty dishes stack up (too high.) Be courteous and kind. And, if you need help with anything, academic or domestic, just ask.
“We’re teaching them what it means to be neighborly,” she said.
A set of third-floor Lockmiller roommates exchanged pleasantries with Wilson and Douglas, who passed out door fliers with individual QR codes for maintenance requests and other resources.
Living on campus “took some adjusting” for 18-year-old freshman Jenna Porter.
Much of it’s had to do with cleaning and learning to be “responsible for my own life,” she said.
“You don’t have your parents to do everything for you,” said the psychology major from Gallatin, Tennessee. “I didn’t realize how much you have to clean and how often it’s got to be done.”
But with those grown-up lessons comes the exhilaration of newfound freedom.
“I can do what I want when I want,” she said.
Neighbors Tameria McMurty and Linen Cooper, both 19, said learning to communicate with each other has been the key to their happy home-away-from-home.
“You can’t let things bottle up. If you want to talk to your roommate about something, just do it but be nice about it,” said Cooper, a civil engineering major,
Cooper flies their campus coop for her family home in Chattanooga whenever she “needs a break.” McMurty, a biology major, does too, only her family lives a couple of hours away in Nashville.
Another absolute joy of living away from home for the first time is her ability to buy the cereal she wants and eat it anytime she wants. For the record, it’s Apple Jacks.