This is an opinion article and my last article for my practicum class. I enjoyed incorporating conversational tone, humor and pop culture references.
As seen in the April 13, 2017 issue of The North Wind (below).
Residence halls are more than drywall with floors and a door, a concept that the Housing and Residence Life drills into our heads at resident/community adviser training. As a resident adviser, we work hard to ensure that people’s required two-year stay in the residence halls is positive to their college experience.
I’m a resident adviser in West Hall and have been since January of 2015. Recently, the news broke that the hall is essentially “limiting” plans to renovate the U.C. The entire building, students and staff alike, will be uprooted at the end of the fall 2017 semester and move into their new home in “The Woods” down campus for winter semester 2018, and for the rest of time.
I honestly wasn’t surprised at the news, but I was still upset. This year had been full of turbulence for West Hall, many of which can be attributed to (cue the sinister organ music) budget cuts.
However, this year did provide plenty of enjoyable moments. For my fourth and fifth (not to mention final) semesters as an RA, I grew both personally and professionally. I worked my “RA magic,” orchestrating friendships, inspiring future leaders and fostering what I hope was a fun and chaotic, but loving, community in the eyes of my residents.
For those of you who never lived up campus, let me put things into perspective: West is a small community of about 250 people. We don’t share a lobby, so we see the same people all the time. It’s refreshing to see the same faces, and only those faces, because few want to walk all the way through campus to visit. It’s like a large extended family. Many residents are art and design majors, so they have similar course loads. Compared to living down campus (I lived in Payne for the first year-and-a-half I was at NMU), living in West is an experience unlike any other.
All the cliché endings to movies will tell you that change is inevitable, and West has been on the university’s chopping block because it’s a 57-year-old building. I knew West would come down eventually, I just didn’t think I would be here to see my residents’ anger and sadness over the loss. Their home, the community I pushed them to believe in, only a two-minute walk from the
art building, just gone.
However, with the move, West has an opportunity as anomalous as its community: The entire community will be moved together. House names, RAs, roommates and suitemates, everything but the storied paint projects on the half-century old walls will reunite in brand-spanking-new drywalls, as if nothing has changed.
An important question has to be asked, though: Will the move down campus compromise the unique living experience past residents and staff have created? The answer is not clear.
With the same staff and residents, I believe the spirit of West and its unique traditions, like Condom Carnival, an event celebrating safe and consensual sex, and my house’s “Mount Olympics,” where residents face off against each other in physical and mental challenges, will see more years. (Will eight people puke next year?)
Just like I had to say goodbye to Payne Hall, I’ll say goodbye to West Hall in a month when I graduate. However, I’ll cry the most when I bid adieu to the people I’ve connected with over the years instead of the Twin XL bed I slept on.
As Fall Out Boy says, thnks fr th mmrs, West.
Can also be seen on The North Wind’s website.