Are you a top or bottom? Comparing the top and bottom bunk experiences

Josh Kahen/Staff

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For freshmen, bunk beds are an omnipresent feature of college life. Every move-in day, you’re sure to find roommates competing for the bed of their choice. “Do I want a top bunk? How about the bottom?” These are the questions that demand an answer from the moment you move into your freshman dorm. But sometimes, these questions are harder to answer than initially expected. No matter who you are, your bed placement often determines your place in the dynamics of the room whether you like it or not. 

If you get stuck with the top bunk, arguably the least desired sleeping arrangement, you have the right to ask for more. Bottom bunk residents have to work less to get to their beds, so they can’t complain as much as you do. Top bunkers have more leverage to ask bottom bunkers to do things for them, because those on the bottom feel a little bit of guilt for having the sweeter sleeping situation. People on the bottom may end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to having leverage over their roommates, but hey, at least they don’t have to climb to go to bed. 

Those on top get all the power. If the person in the bottom bunk is causing problems, all it takes is a little bit of movement on top to make the person below you experience a bed-quake. Once you’re on top, the bottom bunk is subject to every one of your whims. Need some water? Make your bottom bunk roommate get it for you. They can’t really ask you for anything because, well, they already claimed or asked you for the biggest prize of all — the bottom bunk.  

Despite the power dynamics, top bunk dwellers are more patient than their bottom counterparts. In negotiations for beds, they’ll settle for anything to keep the peace. Their tolerance for BS is much higher, and they are a lot more fun in general. They can take jokes made at their expense, and they can deal with some heat, too. If you are a more chilled out type of person and ironically, down-to-Earth, then you are most likely a top. 

Inherently, bottom bunk residents are more assertive than their top counterparts. On move-in day, they are typically the people who show up first to snag the best bed or will outright claim it during negotiations. They may be a little more high maintenance, but they are willing to help out their top bunk roommates when they don’t feel like coming down the ladder. 

If you feel like you don’t fit either of these characteristics, then it probably means you’re a lofted bunk type of person. Middle grounded and indecisive, you make the room whole, despite your general confusion. Not much else to say there. Sorry.

Contact Hamzah Alam at [email protected].