Totem Park is a residence on campus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Once listed by David Letterman as one of the top ten places in the world to get laid, Totem lives up to its reputation of being a stronghold of drunken debauchery. For the reasonably attractive, and those not terribly picky or fearful of sexually transmitted diseases, Totem dances are a near certain place to find a sex partner, albeit probably for one night only. (Though this information is entirely based on hearsay and not actual empirical evidence.)
The Totem Park complex features two loud houses: Haida and Salish and four quiet houses: Nootka, Dene, Shuswap, and Kwakiutl, which is universally referred to simply as ‘Kwak.’ The names come from British Columbian native bands. The major difference between the quiet and loud houses are the longer quiet hours and generally more draconian noise regulations in the quiet houses. Between the various houses is located the Commons Block, which contains a gym of a (limited) kind, a lounge with a large television, the cafeteria, and a convenience store which is open in the evenings.
Communal washrooms are located near the center of each floor. They offer multiple sinks, private shower stalls and toilet stalls that are shared by 22 to 30 residents. Residents are assigned a numbered mailbox. That number does not correspond to their room number. Residents are supplied with two sheets, a mattress cover, pillow and pillowcase, blanket and bedspread – all of which must be returned upon departure. Failure to return these things or doing damage to your room leads to getting assessed for the incurred cost at the end of the year.
Overall, Totem Park is a good first step out of one’s parents’ house. You don’t need to cook for yourself but you get to live on your own (though first years are two to a room). Also, it gives a taste of a new sexual freedom – as unpleasant as squeezing two people onto a tiny single mattress generally can be. Almost every social event in Totem is drenched in alcohol: another thing many residents are getting their first taste of copious access to. Totem Park is a good interim step between living at home and finally taking the plunge to be out on your own. And, as far as plunge taking is concerned, it offers numerous opportunities of that variety.
Assignments to Totem Park are based on age (under 20), distance traveled to attend UBC, and grades (with scholarship recipients getting guaranteed spots). Due to the stupidity of UBC in consistently overbooking both the school and the residences, there is a good chance new residents will start the year living with three others in a converted lounge.
Other UBC residences include Place Vanier (another junior undergraduate residence), Gage Towers and Fairview Crescent (senior undergrad), Thunderbird, and Acadia (staff and family housing).