2016 Survival Guide: live
How to find campus’ best food
From what we’ve experienced, which locale offers the “best” food on campus is highly subjective. If you like comfort food, you might prefer fries and a sandwich from Paws or Chick-Fil-A from Susquehanna Food Court.
If you like fresh salads or Panera-esque menu items, Au Bon Pain in Hawkins Hall might be the spot for you. If you’re the kind of person who likes pretty much everything, head to your nearest dining hall.
But if you’re looking for the creme-de-la-creme of on-campus eating, look no further than Patuxent Bistro in the Union, the Administration Building’s cafe and Bill Bateman’s, which sits along the edge of campus with 7800 York Rd.
All three locations offer meal options that are unavailable anywhere else nearby.
Bateman’s is a bar/restaurant combination that offers alcohol (to those of us who are 21 years old and over), wings and things served with crab dip. It’s also one of the prime locations on campus to catch the latest football games. What else do we need to say?
Patuxent (aka PTux) has limited hours of operation, so the lines get pretty long, but the food is usually worth it.
They offer a pasta station, a Chipotle-style burrito station, a Chinese food station, a sandwich station and a salad bar.
Make sure you get there quickly before the lines start.
Meanwhile, the Admin Cafe is pretty out of the way, so lines are minimal and students are scarce, but you never know who you might rub shoulders with — President Schatzel and other notable University leaders work right upstairs.
How to understand your meals and dining points
Food will inevitably become one of the most important parts of your college career, and those late night runs to Paws will be a little tricky if you don’t understand Towson’s dining plan system.
Using the Flex Dining Plan, students can choose from either 10, 14 or 19 allotted meals per week.
These meals expire on Thursday night, so if you’re not out of meals by then, use them at locations like the Micro Mart and Outtakes to buy items for your dorm.
A tip? Go on Wednesday instead of Thursday, and go earlier in the day. The lines can get really long at the convenience stores.
There’s also an unlimited meals option, but it’s a bit pricier.
You’ll also get $50 in dining points on your OneCard. These points are useful when buying smaller items that don’t make up the cost of a full meal ($6).
The most popular meal plan is 14 meals per week, giving you two meals per day for all seven days of the week.
Test out how much you tend to eat on a weekly basis, and then you’ll know whether to adjust your plan up or down next semester.
When you’re buying your food, tell the cashier how you plan on paying: meals only, meal and points or points only.
If you use a dining hall, you can swipe in and use one meal for all-you-can-eat.
Other locations, like Susquehanna and The Den or Paws use the meals and points system.
Using the block plan, students can choose from either 100, 75, 50 or 25 meals for the whole semester with $75 in dining points.
This is a popular option for commuter students.
Towson offers plenty of both all-you-can eat and a-la-carte options for residents and commuter students, so you’ll never go hungry.
Starbucks and Paws don’t accept meals until 4:15 and 4:30, respectively, so unless you’d like to use cash or points, save your coffee runs until later.
And one last pro tip?
Download Tapingo. It’ll become your best friend on that Saturday morning when you don’t feel like waiting in line at Einstein’s.
How to get along with your roommate
You’ve probably heard your fair share of roommate horror stories—here are a few tips to avoid living through one.
1. Set ground rules.
Res Life is pretty good about helping you and your roommate(s) outline boundaries. Take that little piece of paper your RA gives you seriously and make sure you understand each other’s needs.
2. Get to know each other.
Even if you don’t have a lot in common, make each other feel comfortable—you’re living with this person for eight months. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should at least respect each other.
3. Use headphones.
Your roommate most likely doesn’t have the patience to listen to you binge-watch “Gilmore Girls” for hours, and as great as your EDM playlist is, playing it at full volume while you get ready for your morning class is absolutely frowned upon.
4. Give each other space.
It’s awesome being friends with your roomie, but having interests outside of your suite or quad will ensure that you don’t get on each other’s nerves.
5. Face problems with each other head on.
Avoiding confrontation only leads to more unresolved issues and pettiness. Be upfront with your concerns, but also recognize that your roommate is human and will make mistakes.
6. Don’t be a filthy trash monster.
Shower regularly, do your laundry often, take out the trash. And this might be an easy one to forget, but wash your bedding—especially if you sleep without pants. Yikes.
And if you end up having legitimate problems with your roommate that can’t be solved, it happens. Don’t be afraid to approach your RA with any concerns you have. You’ll have the opportunity to do a room switch in the spring.
Although it may be a bummer to give up having your own room, you can gain so much from learning to live with another person.
How to deal with sharing the communal bathrooms
Communal bathrooms are probably the biggest downside to living in a residence hall.
If you live in one of the towers, you’ll be sharing your bathroom with at least three other people, and if you live in residence tower, everyone in your quad.
But it’s not so bad, as long as you always remember to bring your towel, shower caddy and a pair of flip flops.
There’s no telling what kind of bacteria lives on your shower floor.
The bathroom is an important space to practice roommate etiquette. Quad bathrooms are cleaned regularly by university staff, but if you’re sharing with just your roomie or a few dorm-mates, the bathroom can get dirty fast.
A weekly cleaning schedule posted on the door can quell arguments before they start, and even if it’s not your day to clean, picking up after yourself and replacing the toilet paper every once in awhile is basic decorum.
If you live in West Village, you won’t have to share, but make sure you still follow some basic etiquette practices. Like the bathrooms in the towers, you’ll have clean all by yourself, so make sure you develop a good cleaning schedule that you stick to firmly. No one likes a grimy dorm bathroom. And always make sure you buy enough toilet paper.
How to use and keep track of your OneCard
Your OneCard is your lifeline at TU—you’ll use it every day to get into your residence hall and buy meals and snacks, and it’s also necessary for checking out materials at Cook Library, hitting up Burdick gym and university athletic events, riding the shuttles and printing on campus.
It might be tempting to keep your card on the free Towson lanyard you’ve inevitably been given by now, but to upperclassmen, this is the number one telltale sign that someone is a new student (which there’s no shame in, of course!). And as often as you’ll be using your OneCard, it’s also super easy to lose. Keep it safely tucked into your wallet or the side pocket of your backpack or else pay the fee to replace your lost card.
Unless you really hate your ID photo that much—in which case, saying you “lost” your card is a totally viable excuse for taking a new pic.
Keep in mind that the first two times you lose your card, it costs $15 to replace it, but after that the cost will get much higher. Be careful!
How to cope when you feel homesick
When it comes to homesickness, the first semester of college can be difficult, especially if your family doesn’t live close enough to justify a weekend trip home. Remember that every other new student is in the same position as you, and they probably miss their dogs just as much as you do (and their mom, too, even if they won’t admit it).
You might find yourself missing your family and friends the most as you lie awake at night, which is why Skype and Facetime calls before bed will be your best friend, at least for the first few weeks of school.
The easiest way to beat homesickness is to make TU your new home, which will happen fast as you make new friends and get acquainted with campus.
Try to find an extracurricular activity that you enjoy to help you adjust to living away from home. Towson offers plenty of clubs, sports and organizations, and you’re sure to find one that you’ll end up loving.
Find a favorite dining hall or a quiet corner of the library to hide in when you need some “me” time, call your parents frequently to update them on your college life, and keep your mind open to new experiences and people.
Allow yourself to feel homesick, but make sure to keep an open mind.
The homesickness doesn’t have to last that long.
How to get around all the construction
Towson University is always growing, and the construction can sometimes make navigating campus a bit tricky.
The biggest construction project on campus is the Burdick Hall expansion, slated to be completed by fall 2017. Students travelling to and from West Village will have to use the detour between the Union Garage and Burdick Fields and through the Union to make it to the other side of campus.If you want to use the Burdick Gym, you will have to use the University Avenue entrance between Burdick and the Towsontown Garage. In the spring, baseball goers will have to enter Schuerholz Park from Towsontown Blvd. Newell Dining Hall and The Den will be closed until winter 2017. While pedestrian traffic is still available in the area, Newell Avenue will be permanently closed for vehicle traffic.
The construction can sometimes make your walk to class a little bit longer, so make sure you set your alarm and leave with plenty of time to make it before class starts.
Walks from West Village to class can take up to 30 minutes. If you live in the Glen Complex, you’ll probably have an easier time.
How to utilize your floor RA
It’s late on a Thursday night in your dorm.
You’re having a good time, listening to some music and basically ignoring every quiet hour rule in the book.
Your RA knocks on your door.
Your RA is annoyed.
You get a noise complaint.
Now you’re sad.
Don’t be that guy.
Instead, try to get on your RA’s good side. Their responsibility is to create a sense of community on your floor, and all they want to do is help you.
Oftentimes, your RA will be your first point of contact with many issues you may have in your academic, social or personal life.
And if they can’t help you the way you need, they can direct you to someone who can help, such as your building’s Residence Life Coordinator.
They’ll also plan a lot of floor events. Go to them.
It’s a great way to not only get to know your RA a bit better, it’s a really easy way to make friends with the people in your hall.
After all, you’ll be living with them for eight months, right? (Plus, there’s usually free food.)
They can be a great first resource for figuring out how to get involved on campus, too.
They’re students too and they all remember those first few weeks of freshman year, and they’ll be happy to help you find your niche on campus.
Yes, your RA is there to enforce the rules.
However, your RA is also there to make your transition into college a little bit easier, so don’t be afraid to approach them with any questions or concerns you may have.
If you follow the rules, you’ll have a great experience with your RA, as well as a great experience living in your dorm room.
And who knows, maybe by the end of the year you’ll want to be an RA, too.
How to know what to wear to your classes
The wonderful thing about college is that everyone is too stressed out to care what you wear to class. Gym shorts, yoga pants and t-shirts are totally acceptable, if not expected.
Whether you want to dress for comfort or you like getting dolled up, the only thing that should matter is if you like how you look.
That said, here are some things that students should generally avoid wearing:
If you have a short walk to class, this might not be a big deal, but trying to navigate the construction and stairs around campus in heels is a sure way to break your ankle.
A lot of perfume.
In small classrooms, the smell can be overpowering.
Big hats/hair accessories.
I’d love to wear my Panama hats every day, but keeping them on during class can be a nuisance to other students.
If you’re wearing something that could block someone’s view, be courteous and sit in the back.
Basically, plan your outfit according to the weather, how much walking you’ll have to do between classes, and maybe invest in some comfortable clothes if you have back-to-back classes.
One suggestion is to layer. Sometimes the buildings can get either really hot on a cold day, or really cold on a hot day.
You always want to be prepared so you’re not shivering or melting away in class.
How to stay healthy on campus
Staying healthy at college goes hand in hand with eating good food. And no, not “good” as in delicious. “Good” as in nutritious.
Luckily, Towson offers options that cover both.
Healthy meal options like whole wheat pastas, salads (pre-packaged or made according to your specifications) are available are virtually everywhere, while places like the Union’s Susquehanna Food Court (often affectionately referred to as “Susq”) offer smoothie options that combine fruits, veggies and add-ons like chia seeds if so desired.
On-campus dieticians can also lend advice on meal plans and preparation.
If you want to go the extra mile toward staying healthy, Burdick Hall, which houses multiple gyms, a pool, Campus Rec activities and fitness classes and a wide-array of workout resources, is the place for you.
While some Burdick services are temporarily limited due to the ongoing construction, there will be even more facilities and workout apparatus available for students once the building’s expansion is completed in the coming year.
Check back with the Towerlight for updates about campus construction.
And finally, in case of medical emergencies or minor tummy aches, the Health Center at Ward and West is your best friend.
Located near the Liberal Arts building and Residence Tower, the Health Center is here to take care of you.
Services offered there include STD-testing, immunization shots and contraceptive counseling, in addition to treatment for illnesses and injuries.
Staying mentally healthy is equally as important.
Starting college is a stressful time, and for a lot of people, it’s the first time away from home and family. Classes can be stressful and it can feel overwhelming trying to balance school with a social life.
Thankfully, the Towson University Counseling Center provides great resources for Towson students—most at no out of pocket cost.
The Counseling Center offers services to help students with their emotional and psychological health. Students can make an appointment to talk to a counselor about concerns they may have by speaking with someone at the front desk, or by calling 410-704-2512.
In addition to individual services and initial visits, the Counseling Center offers several counseling groups, some that are on a drop-in basis.
During regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the Counseling Center is able to help students who are in crisis. Outside of those times, the center recommends a few courses of action. If someone’s health or safety is at risk, call 911.
TUPD can contact Counseling Center staff as needed in an emergency. Anyone in suicidal crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
How to best bike around campus
Walking around campus all the time can get tiring and can take almost half an hour, and trying to drive across campus is a fool’s errand because of TU’s high commuter population.
The shuttles are always an option, but their schedule might not match yours.
Thankfully, Towson is a pretty bike-friendly campus. You’ll find bike racks in front of most buildings and there’s even a bike-repair station in front of the Union.
Campus Rec is also offereing a semester-long bike share program. The first 28 students who sign up will get a bike to use for the semester for the low cost of $20. Registration opens Sept. 5 at noon.
Virtually all of campus is lined with wide paths with plenty of room for pedestrians and cyclists–though trying to bike through the Glen Woods might not be too wise–which makes biking a great option if you want to move faster than your feet can take you.
How to make the most of the CSD
Located on the third floor of the Union, the Center for Student Diversity is here to encourage inclusion and dialogue in a safe space among students on campus with diverse backgrounds. They offer programs and services that support underrepresented groups on campus, and have units in African American, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander development, LGBT development, as well as campus ministries and women’s resources.
Here are a few things you can do to get involved.
Join a student success program
Students Achieve Goals through Education, or SAGE, is a program that encourages achievement, personal growth and involvement among students with diverse backgrounds. Each student is assigned a peer mentor and participates in activities that enhance networking skills, career development and knowledge of cultural groups. SAGE meets every Tuesdays from 4-5pm in Chesapeake Room III.
Attend the speaker series
Every semester, the CSD hosts a Diversity Speaker Series that brings culturally relevant speakers to campus. Last year, the CSD hosted speakers such as #BlackLivesMatter co-creator Opal Tometi, social activist Bree Newsome, the Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III and social activist Tim Wise.
They also host a Retreat for Social Justice every year that explores cultural identity and interaction. They only choose 50 students to go, so visit the CSD’s website if you’re interested.
Join a multicultural student organization
The CSD offers an endless amount of student organizations that will suit your every need. These organizations include cultural groups like the African Diaspora Club, sororities and fraternities like Sigma Lambda Gamma and Lambda Theti Phi, religious groups like Hillel and the Newman Center, as well as other groups like the Feminist Collective and GenderBLUR.
Hang out in the office
The CSD is just a really cool place to hang out. Stop by once or twice during the semester to see what’s going on. The office is always warm and inviting, and there’s always someone to talk to…bonus points if you get to meet Dr. Kirmani.
How to commute
OK, guys, we’re going to be honest here. Parking and commuting to Towson University can be really, really difficult. There are a few lots that are restricted to certain residents, and all parking garages will have signs telling you where you can and can’t park.
An important note–freshmen residents can’t have their cars on campus anymore. There are some exceptions, which you can check out online.
Garages and lots in the main part of campus will fill up quick, especially during the middle of the day when a lot of people are taking classes. If you’re OK with walking a little bit, drive up the road to Lot 14, near SECU Arena and Johnny Unitas Stadium. There’s a lot of room up there and it doesn’t usually fill up.
Also, give the shuttles a try. There are a bunch of off- and on-campus shuttle routes that can get you pretty much anywhere you need to be from just about anywhere you are. Using the off-campus shuttles can save you a lot of grief in trying to find parking.