Life on the Lawn: Ryan Burke
Oct. 9, 2006
by Ashley Mayo
Ryan Burke is one of several student-athletes who live on The Lawn at the University of Virginia. He has been an integral member of the men’s soccer team for the past four seasons. In 2005, he started all 20 games in goal for the Cavaliers and played for a total of 1,883 minutes. He was also named to the VaSID All-State Team and earned the All-ACC men’s soccer academic team honors.
VirginiaSports.com caught up with Ryan at his room, No. 43, to ask him how he feels about living on The Lawn.
VirginiaSports.com: Describe how you felt when you first found out you’d be living on he Lawn.
Burke: Well, I didn’t actually get the Lawn the first time around. I was the first alternate. So when I found out it was a bummer, because I almost made it but I didn’t make it. But I kind of knew that I was eventually going to get it because normally some rooms open up. Spots open up when people either reject the rooms or when people who have already gotten into the Lawn get into endowed rooms. But when I finally got it I was really excited.
VirginiaSports.com: Describe the application process. Has being a student-athlete player helped you get accepted?
Burke: The application included writing a couple of essays. It’s like any other application. It asks you why you deserve to live on the Lawn. Soccer was probably a huge part–it’s clearly my most visible participation with the University. And I wasn’t really the kind of person who talked about his accolades and what he did at the University. I just talked about what the academia here means to me and why I feel like I should live in the academical village.
VirginiaSports.com: How has living on the Lawn been different to how you imagined it would be?
Burke: I felt like I lived on the Lawn last year because my girlfriend had a room here. It’s not as glamorous as you would think. It is very social and there is a lot asked of you and there’s obviously a lot of responsibility within the community.
VirginiaSports.com: What do you like most about living on the Lawn?
Burke: I really like the people. It’s really fun meeting all kinds of new people everyday and seeing people who come visit the University. People come from all over and just walk in your room like they own it. It’s really interesting to hear why they’re here and to answer the questions that they have.
VirginiaSports.com: What do you dislike about living on the Lawn?
Burke: Definitely the bathroom situation. The bathroom situation is really killing me. When you wake up and have to go to the bathroom it’s kind of a pain. It’s a small price to pay.
VirginiaSports.com: What famous people have lived in your room? Are any of them former athletes?
Burke: The first African American lived in room 43, whose name I don’t know. And there’s a guy on the football team who was supposed to be an absolute genius who lived in my room.
VirginiaSports.com: Are there any special traditions that go with living on the Lawn?
Burke: I have a hard time believing that you can live on the Lawn and not actually streak the Lawn. Even the most conservative of personalities have to do it. I find it necessary to really get out and streak at least one time.
VirginiaSports.com: Have you streaked the Lawn yet?
Burke: Oh yea, I did it for the first time this year. It was a good, good time.
VirginiaSports.com: Is there anything else you’d like to say about living on the Lawn?
Burke: Yea. Come by my room. It’s always a good time.
The Lawn is a large, terraced grassy court at the historic center of Thomas Jefferson’s academical village at the University of Virginia. There are 54 Lawn rooms, where carefully selected undergraduates reside in their final year. Being chosen for residence in one of the Lawn rooms is considered prestigious. All undergraduate students who will graduate at the end of their year of residency are eligible to apply to live in one of the 47 rooms open to the general student body. Applications – which vary from year to year, but generally include a résumé, personal statement and responses to several questions – are reviewed by a reading committee and the top vote-getters are offered Lawn residency, with several alternates also given notice of potential residency. Five of the remaining seven rooms are “endowed” by organizations on Grounds.