This is how it is to live in one of Charlie Munger’s windowless dormitories

The answer is at the University of Michigan, where Munger Graduate Residence Hall houses more than 600 graduate students in 6 to 7 bedroom apartments. And most of the single rooms do not have windows either.

Public policy graduate student Luiza Macedo did not see the sun for an entire week as she had to isolate herself in her room at Munger Residence due to a Covid-19 scare.

“It was probably the lowest point in my experience here. It got stuck in my room,” Macedo said. “A lot of people are disbelieving that this was a thing at all before all these articles came out about UCSB … such as, how is this legal? How do they do it against us?”

Many students use sun lamps or night lights to create an artificial sense of the daytime – students told CNN Business said it is almost impossible to do without one.

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

He graduated from the University of Michigan and donated the majority of his $ 110 million gift to fund his $ 185 million vision of the college. In 2013, it was the largest single donation the school had ever received. Michigan promoted the building as a “community of scholars,” where graduate students from different disciplines constantly interact with each other in common areas 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 students – prompted a consulting architect to stop in October. Munger donated $ 200 million to UCSB to fund dormitories on the condition that his designs be followed.

“When an ignorant man leaves, I consider it a plus and not a minus,” Munger said of the consulting architect in an interview with CNN Business Friday. “He’s simply wrong.”

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Munger says his design creates positive experiences for students.

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

Unlike Michigan, the rooms at UCSB would have artificial windows designed to mimic fake berths on Disney Cruises.

“It was a mistake on my part not to put these artificial windows into Michigan,” Munger said in an interview with CNN Business Monday.

Macedo does not spend much time in his room, which costs about $ 1,000 a month. Instead, she studies outward-facing windows on the top floor – but that’s not because she wants to collaborate with anyone.

“Mental health far outweighs the desire for people to cooperate or whatever that goal is,” Macedo said. “I’d much rather not have depression than work with my peers.”

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Some students have become accustomed to living without a window in their room.

“I was not sure how it would work to live in a bedroom without a window, but for me it is at least not that much,” said graduate student Sabrina Ivanenco. “I think when you leave your bedroom, you have a very beautiful living space.”

In fact, the building has a rating of 8.8 out of 10 on Reviewers praise the building’s facilities, including a study room and a fitness center. And each room has a queen-size bed and en suite bathroom, with shared space having a large kitchen, living room, dining area and natural light. But many commentators also lament the lack of windows.

Lindsay Stefanski, assistant director of graduate academic initiatives, said Munger has several community-building events in place, such as yoga on the roof, to promote well-being. The hall had partnered with the university’s counseling and psychology department to provide SAD lamps that stimulate sunlight.

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

UCSB said in a statement Friday that the project and design of the building will continue as planned.

Munger has also designed a dormitory at Stanford University and a library of removable walls at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. But he has no plans to bring his college design to other universities.

“No, I do not want to do that. I am ready to die very soon,” he said. “But I expect this college to be copied four times more on the USCB campus and many more times than on the other campuses on the UC system, and I expect this to spread across the country. It’s a better mousetrap. “

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PhD student Louise Batta disagrees. She did not realize that her room would not have windows – she said there were no pictures on the website and because of Covid she could not tour in person. Batta said she immediately started getting headaches due to ventilation issues.

“It’s completely thrown out of 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 all the time about how bad the life situation is, but it has really had a negative impact on my school experience.”

Batta is trying to break his lease.

“I have not heard any birds since I came up here because I do not have a window. I can not wake up to birds,” Batta said.


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