McMahon Freshmen Make the Most of Close Quarters

Three’s Company, but Eight’s a Party for McMahon Hall “Ocho” Residents


Published: October 16, 2008

Apartment 4H of McMahon Hall doesn’t look like anything special from the outside. The door is the same startling yellow as its neighbors’. But 4H is, in fact, a very unusual apartment for a building that usually houses four to six residents per suite. Eight boys live there, making it one of the most jam-packed rooms in McMahon. It has been dubbed “The Ocho” by freshmen, and its inhabitants are quick to describe it as “the bombest pad on campus.”

This is not necessarily the attitude you would expect from eight people who live in a space built for six. Their crowded situation is a result of this year’s enormous freshman class of 440, the largest in Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s (FCLC) history. As a result, McMahon is housing more students than ever. Two hundred thirty-three freshmen live in FCLC’s only dorm, up from 217 last year, according to Jenifer Campbell, director of residential life at FCLC. Freshmen occupy all of the suites on floors two through five and spill into 13 suites on the sixth floor. More suites than ever contain triple rooms. “The Ocho” is one of only two suites in McMahon, however, to have two triples and one double room.

With a crowded suite comes a great deal of variety. “Ocho” residents hail from all over the country, from Maine to California to Texas. Both presidential candidates have supporters in 4H, and several residents are self-described independents. “Ocho” majors include computer science and engineering, communications, English and psychology. 4H is mostly composed of night people, but some prefer the morning. Some are clean and others less so.

And yet despite all their significant differences, “Ocho” residents are overwhelmingly positive about their residential life experience thus far. “It’s wonderful,” said Orange County-bred night owl Nick Skibicki, FCLC ’12. “We get along really well,” was the constant refrain. Alex Armero, Logan Weir and Zade Constantine, all FCLC ’12, mentioned how having a large apartment, with its constant flow of social traffic, makes meeting people easy. 4H has garnered attention for its numbers, and its inhabitants are enjoying their fame.

According to Sarah McKay, FCLC ’12, “The Ocho” is “a center-point for social activity organization,” and its members are “kind of like fourth floor celebrities.”

Rachel Levy, FCLC ’12, defined 4H as “the core” of her social life. “My night always starts here and ends with these people.” The boys of 4H have approved McKay and Levy as honorary suitemates. Weir described 4H as “really a ten-person apartment.” McKay and Levy are both fourth floor residents who “connect better” with the people in “The Ocho” than in their rooms and spend more time there than they do in their assigned suites. Levy carries a 4H key around, and McKay called it “a safe haven.”

The feeling in the common room is certainly one of comfort. The wall behind the couch is already well covered with posters, and the opposite wall is proudly decorated with “Ocho” artwork. People lounge on couches and on top of chairs while laughing, talking and interrupting each other.

When asked to describe a favorite 4H experience, almost everyone mentioned their recent “sit-down dinner.” Levy corrected anyone who called it a dinner party.

“It was a family dinner,” she said firmly. Levy and McKay served shrimp risotto and bruschetta, and all cell phones were turned off. Everyone was enthusiastic, but Constantine was less pleased with the aftermath.

“It smelled in here. I wanted to throw up every time I walked into this room,” Constantine said.

The smell has since disappeared, but “The Ocho” is still not quite the picture of cleanliness. The common room is cluttered with video game equipment and plates, cups and pans are stacked in the sink.

“It’s kind of a struggle sometimes,” said Alex Englert, FCLC ’12, explaining that 4H gets messy quickly and that “it was disgusting” before they implemented a cleaning schedule and all eight of them cleaned “for like two hours.” Each 4H resident now has a different job every week, a schedule which has been “partially effective,” according to Christopher Hooks, FCLC ’12. Cleanliness and food division (it used to be a communal system, but now people mostly buy their own groceries) seem to be the only conflicts, but they are shrugged off. “The Ocho” is loud and crowded, but it’s harmonious too.

4H is not the only part of McMahon with a cheerful outlook on a crowded situation.

“For me, it’s more the merrier,” said James Robilotta, resident director for freshmen. In fact, Robilotta said that he has had fewer freshmen conflicts this year than last. “Freshmen this year have a ton of life,” said Robilotta. “[They] are really grabbing their experience by the horns. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it just stays where it is.”

Although some may assume that living in such tight quarters will inevitably breed conflict, I’ll bet staying put sounds just fine to “The Ocho.”