When I tell people that I live in Stoke Hall, they apologize to me. But for three years I’ve called the largest dorm on campus my home, and not with an ounce of shame. Built in 1964, the building has a certain charm that can only be appreciated by those who call it home. Old yellow bathroom tile, hasty plaster patch jobs, and paper thin walls, make Stoke undeniably unique.
The first time I ever visited UNH, my first stop with my parents was the financial aid office on the ground floor of Stoke Hall. Confused about the presence of offices in a residential building and simply embracing her tendency to completely embarrass me in front of my peers, my mother asked a student walking into Stoke if he lived in the building. I was mortified. But the guy was really nice, saying it was his second year in the building and that he loved the dorm community. I was sold, and when the time came to select my first, second, and third choices for a residence hall my freshmen year, I listed Stoke at #1.
I don’t think I’m among many who put Stoke as their first choice, so obviously I got what I’d wished for. In August of 2010, I moved my things into a room on the 4th floor and began my long and devoted relationship with Stoke Hall. The community in Stoke is incomparable to anywhere I lived before. With a diverse range of majors, interests, and personality types, the students of Stoke certainly keep things interesting. I fell in love with the vibrations of house music that pulse through the ancient plaster walls and the friendly hellos that you’d get as you pass friends in the hall. And even those nights that I just want to scream at the guys playing guitar in the hallway or the girls doing zumba in the lounge, I wake up each morning knowing that I reside in the best place to live on campus.
I’m tired of explaining to people why I love Stoke so much. Placed there my freshmen year, I consider myself honored and lucky to have been selected as an RA in the building my sophomore and junior years. Stoke has been so much a part of my amazing experience at UNH, that I can’t picture school without it. I’m a little bit sad that I won’t be living here next year (I’ll be a CA in Woodsides!), but I will vacate my niche in Stoke to the next lucky resident, certain that they will enjoy it as much as I have. So when someone tells you that they live in Stoke, don’t apologize. We don’t need your sympathy; we are proud of the place we call home.
Written by Denise Barstow, UNH Class of 2014.