Here’s what it’s like to live in one of Charlie Munger’s windowless dorms

The answer lies at the University of Michigan, where the Munger Graduate Residence Hall houses more than 600 graduate students in 6- to 7-bedroom apartments. And most of these single rooms don’t have a window either.

Public policy graduate student Luiza Macedo didn’t see the sun for a full week when she had to isolate herself in her room at the Munger Residence due to fear of Covid-19.

“That was probably the low point of my experience here. It was stuck in my room,” Macedo said. “A lot of people are in disbelief that this was even a thing before all these articles were published on UCSB … like, how is that legal? How are they doing this to us?”

Many students use solar lights or night lights to create an artificial sense of the day – students told CNN Business it was nearly impossible to do without.

Munger, 97, is Warren Buffett’s right-hand man and an amateur architect. He has no formal education in the field.

He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and donated the majority of his $ 110 million donation to fund his $ 185 million dorm vision. At that time, in 2013, it was the biggest donation the school had ever received. Michigan promoted the building as a “community of academics,” where graduate students from different disciplines constantly interact with each other in common spaces, where there are windows.

His controversial plans for Munger Hall at UCSB – an 11-story building that would provide nearly 4,500 windowless beds for undergraduates – led a consultant architect to resign in October. Munger donated $ 200 million to UCSB to fund the dormitories, provided his designs were followed.

“When an ignorant man leaves, I see it as a plus, not a minus,” Munger said of the consulting architect in an interview with CNN Business Monday. “He is simply wrong.

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Munger says his designs create positive experiences for students.

“I was (at the University of Michigan) last month, you’ve never seen a happier group of students and it’s very similar in design,” Munger said. “So all I can say is I’ve been doing this for a long time and no building has failed yet.”

Unlike Michigan, rooms at UCSB would have man-made windows meant to mimic the faux portholes on Disney cruises.

“It was a mistake on my part not to install these man-made windows in Michigan,” Munger said in an interview with CNN Business Monday.

Macedo doesn’t spend a lot of time in his room, which costs around $ 1,000 a month. Instead, she studies facing the windows on the top floor – but that’s not because she wants to collaborate with anyone.

“Mental health far trumps people’s desire to collaborate or whatever that goal,” Macedo said. “I would much rather not suffer from depression than to collaborate with my peers.”

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Some students have become accustomed to living without windows in their rooms.

“I had no idea how living in a windowless room was going to work, but for me, at least, it really doesn’t matter,” said graduate student Sabrina Ivanenco. “I think once you get out of your bedroom you have a really nice living space.”

In fact, the building has a rating of 8.8 out of 10 on veryapt.com. Reviewers praise the building’s amenities, including study rooms and a fitness center. And each bedroom has a queen-size bed and its own bathroom, with a common area including a large kitchen, living room, dining area, and natural light. But many commentators also bemoan the lack of windows.

Lindsay Stefanski, deputy director of graduate university initiatives, said Munger has implemented several community building events, such as rooftop yoga, to encourage wellness. The room had partnered with the university’s counseling and psychology service to provide SAD lamps, which stimulate sunlight.

“The feedback has been phenomenal,” Stefanski said. “Students appreciate these opportunities to step out of their silos and connect with each other in these large common spaces. “

The UCSB said in a statement on Friday that the building project and design would proceed as planned.

Munger also designed a dormitory at Stanford University and a library with removable walls at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. But he has no plans to take his dorm designs to other universities.

“No, I won’t. I’m ready to die very soon,” he said. “But I expect this dorm to be copied four more times on the USCB campus and many more times than on other UC system campuses and I expect this to spill over into everything. country. It’s a better mousetrap. “

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Louise Batta, doctoral student, disagrees. She had no idea her room would not have windows – she said there were no photos on the website and due to Covid she couldn’t visit in person. Batta said she immediately started having headaches from ventilation issues.

“It’s completely upset with my circadian rhythm. It’s hard to get up in the morning to get out of bed because I never know what time it is,” Batta said. “I know people joke about how bad the conditions are all the time, but it really had a negative impact on my experience in college.”

Batta tries to break his lease.

“I haven’t heard any birds since I got here because I don’t have a window. I can’t wake up with birds,” Batta said.


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