Let’s get this Totem and Vanier thing straight.

Hey incoming first years,

If you are living in Totem Park or Place Vanier next year, this post is for you. In addition to being a Blog Squad member to help you get aquatinted with student life at UBC, I’m regularly on the UBC Prospective Undergraduate Students facebook page to answer your questions.

Lately, most of the posts are about students in residence trying to switch rooms from Totem to Vanier. Here’s the deal. Totem and Vanier are both old, smelly, and are filled with the same students in each residence. There aren’t many differences. There isn’t a big enough difference between Totem Park and Place Vanier that should make anyone have to switch rooms. I’m here to put romours or unanswered questions to rest.

Last year, I lived in Nootka House in Totem and I’m returning to be a Residence Advisor in Haida. I have both friends in Totem Park and Place Vanier. I’ve spent time in both cafeterias, both residences, and many different buildings between the two places. Here is my educated list of the differences between Totem Park and Place Vanier, the truth to rumors about who parties and who doesn’t, along with resources for you to read and/or watch, and the reason why I selected Totem Park as my number one choice when I was moving into residence in my first year.

1) The little differences between Totem Park and Place Vanier. (reminder, both residences are super old, generally have the same sized room (some small exceptions), given the same furniture, have the same bad paint jobs, and the same first year experience)

Between Totem and Vanier there are little differences but in the end I’d say both residences offer the same experience. Unlike other universities, and from my standpoint of both a resident in my first year and as a Residence Advisor, I’d say UBC does an excellent job of creating both residences to be equals. Here are the little differences you’ll find in Totem and Vanier.

Totem Park:
– 6 houses, 1,163 residents, with 2 houses currently being built as the newest and best on campus. That’s approximately 194 people per house. All houses have elevators (and a frequently used space for pranks)
– All houses have co-ed building and same sex floors except for Shuswap which has co-ed floors.
– Houses are in pairs with “links” to partner houses that include study rooms
– Totem houses are 6 floors each with ‘H’ shaped floors that include two hallways and all the things you’ll need like mud rooms and floor lounges
– Totem’s commons block is the most recently updated, including the cafeteria
– Totem’s late night store, Magda’s, has a grill that is open late for meal purchases after the cafeteria closes at 7:30pm on school nights and 7pm on weekends. The grill is open until 11pm and Magda’s until 11:30pm daily.
– Totem has a flag football league (TFL & WTFL)
– Close to the UBC Botanical Garden, Starbucks, the sports fields, UBC Thunderbird Arena, Old NW Marine Drive for running, Engineering, Science, LFS, and Forestry buildings, and is situated next to the water.

Place Vanier:
– 12 houses and 1,370 residents. That’s approximately 114 people per house.
– All houses are same-sex floors with co-ed houses, except for Kootenay and Ross as exclusively gals only and Mackenzie and Robson as guys only. Also, KU & Tec are the only houses to have co-ed floors (and the only buildings to have elevators! Thanks Mel)
– All the houses are smaller, with single hallways, less floors but in some cases dorm rooms in the basement level.
– Recently updated commons block and cafeteria but their late night store, Hubbards, does not offer a grill/meal option.
– Offers an ultimate frizbee leauge
– Has Tec and Korea house which are newer buildings from a few years ago where you pay an extra fee and it offers such things as per-room thermostats and sometimes an entire wall that is a window aka the fish bowl.
– Closer to Arts buildings, the Japanese gardens, the Museum of Anthropology, and situated on the water.

2) The truth to the rumours of who parties and who doesn’t

The differences between Vanier and Totem when it comes to who studies hard and who parties I would say is all gossip. Apparently, Vanier was more party than Totem last year and they had fire alarms pulled nightly where I didn’t have the same experience in Totem. I’d say it depends what characters are placed in what residence, but like I said both Totem and Vanier are the same deal and you’ll have friends at both residences.

3) Resources to look at about Totem Park and Place Vanier

Totem Park page- UBC Student Housing

Place Vanier page- UBC Student Housing

4) Why did I choose Totem going into first year?

I prefer Totem myself because I like large floors and I like the late night food option. I enjoy being a little farther away from the hustle and bustle of classes and I love the football league. I also feel like Totem has a cool spirit and pride, along with great events. Both residences will offer events and activities and will be similar across the board. This is because the Residence Advisors maintain the same community feel in both residences, both the PVRA and TPRA offer events and things to do, and both residences are managed by the same fine UBC staffers.

One last thing to encourage you to avoid the pain of trying to switch residences, click here to see Totem Park listed as number 7 for the top 10 Canadian University residences on AskMen.com

With love,

Erica, your UBC Housing fairy godmother

9 thoughts on “Let’s get this Totem and Vanier thing straight.

  1. Mel Ang

    very detailed 🙂

    some additional things to add to the vanier list:
    – only KU +Tec have elevators, so if you’re living on 4th floor of Caribou, good luck moving your stuff.
    – Actually not all Vanier houses have single-gendered floors, KU +Tec have co-ed floors.

  2. Kevin

    Great post Erica. I’ll be sure to chime in later on the YouBC Facebook page. Missing you at Academy!!

  3. Kacy

    Tec/K-House only costs $320 more than a single room from any other Vanier house.

    Great post on those preconceptions about the two residences! People will have fun no matter where they end up.

  4. Samantha

    I am personally jazzed to move into Totem even though Vanier was my first choice. The more and more I hear, the more Totem seems like the right place (for me anyways) to be!
    But, none the less, this post was very informative!

  5. Angel

    Hello fairy godmother dearest!

    Excellent post!!! I had wanted to be in Vanier, but now I can’t WAIT to move in to Totem (Haida House!!! *throws confetti everywhere*) because who doesn’t like a late-night grill? I didn’t know it was closer to my faculty (Engineering) which is a great plus! Thanks so much, you are v v v efficient!

    Can’t wait to meet you!

    See you soon and take care!

  6. Ellen

    Hey Erica,
    I’m going into my first year at UBC this September and I just got my residence assignment which is Ross house, Place Vanier (even though I didn’t sign up for an all girls rez but oh well!). If my room number is in the 100’s, I should be on the first floor, not in the basement, right?

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