As it seems to be a question on everyone’s minds, I’m going to do a post on Totem vs. Vanier. First of all, I want to make it clear that I have only lived in Totem Park, so my knowledge on Place Vanier is limited.
So the first thing people seem to ask is this: do I get to pick which one I live in? No! You don’t get to pick. As it stands, you say you’re in first year and they put you in whichever ones works out the best for their system, taking into account your roommate preferences, etc. to a certain extent. You get to live with whatever they decide. (That said, I think there have been a few cases of people moving during the year, but you’re gonna need a better reason than “that one’s cooler” or “I don’t wanna walk as far.”)
Next inevitable question: Pros and cons? Again, let me reiterate: I have only lived in Totem. But here goes!
Pros of Totem Park:
- It’s smaller, which can be nice because then you have more of a chance to get to know people more.
- More of the buildings have elevators.
- həm’ləsəm’ and q’ələχən houses – very new and pretty, and the rooms have the shared bathrooms.
- Magda’s convenience store has a grill open past dining hall hours.
- Dining hall food serving area is nicer (in my opinion).
- Every floor has an RA, whereas many buildings in PV have one RA per two floors (Totem floors are a bit bigger).
- Close to the Botanical Gardens.
- Outdoor eating area.
Cons of Totem Park:
- Pretty far from pretty much everything, unless you’re in engineering or forestry. Seriously though, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s maaaaybe a fifteen minute walk to the bus loop, which isn’t even that bad. No freshman fifteen for Totemites!
- Dining area isn’t as pretty.
- The cooking in some cases isn’t as good as Vanier – not that I ate at Vanier a whole lot, but apparently to Totem, a veggie quesadilla means a cheese and two and a half inch long strips of green and red peppers. Seriously? (Mostly the cooking is about the same for the two dorms, though.)
- Commonsblock area isn’t as nice.
Pros of Place Vanier:
- It’s bigger, so if you like a bigger community that’s good.
- Pretty pretty dining area.
- More food stations than Totem (in reality though, pretty much the same amount of different types of food gets served.)
- Close to the Nitobe Memorial Garden, and pretty much the whole north campus, home to arts and science.
- Nice looking commonsblock.
- More study spaces, both for groups and for silent study.
Cons of Place Vanier:
- More stairs, less elevators. Have fun on move-in day!
- No hot food available after the dining hall closes.
- In some houses, one RA per two floors.
It seems to me that the things on this list are fairly small things. The bottom line is, the two dorms are more or less the same. Both have sports leagues (football and ultimate), both put on a musical, both have formal dinners, both have dances, both don’t allow parties (sorry), both have various committees such as global citizenship and environmental awareness, both have rec’n’rez events, both have awesome RA’s, both have much the same food, both have people to listen to you if you need it, both have a 24-hour front desk service, both have houses that will plan their own individual events, both have a big year-opener event (Colour Wars or Vanier Olympics), both have charity drives, both have nice grounds and bike locks, both are filled with people who will become your family for the year.
So if that massively run-on sentence didn’t sum it up for you: no, you can’t pick where you go, but you’re gonna have an awesome year regardless of where you end up!