We didn’t know it was the campus Animal House when we moved in. The university brochure didn’t advertise that fact and prospective student visits were when classes weren’t in session. Also, the movie hadn’t come out yet.
We found out very quickly.
Our dorm was the subject for at least one campus newspaper article weekly. It was even cited for the “Floor of Ill Repute” which thrilled the guys so much they plastered the article in full view of the elevator doors for Parents Weekend visitors.
It was one of only two coed dorms. And yes, it was a guys’ floor that was cited for its reputation.
One of the secretaries I worked with actually put her hand to her heart and gasped “You actually live there? Is it true they throw people out the windows?”
A gross exaggeration. Mannequins yes, live people no. And I have no idea where the mannequin came from that landed in the front courtyard — along with assorted furniture and unidentified objects. Live people were in danger of being the targeted victims of swirlies late at night which was reason you locked your door before tucking in at night.
Meeting up with returning students at the pub at the beginning of another year, none of us had yet seen the movie that came out over the summer. So we decided to go before we got into classes and wouldn’t have time.
We were stunned.
Someone had visited our dorm and made of movie about it! (headsmack) Why didn’t we think of that? We would have had money to pay off our student loans! We might have had a retirement fund! We might have been able to afford to retire.
Our nearly weekly Midnight Specials were legendary on campus and the toga gimmick was completely unnecessary. The only time we partied at any other dorm was when the bad behavior ticked off the admin and our liquor and party privileges were suspended.
Then there were the steam baths. Most of the jocks lived in the dorm and before the campus rec center was built, they’d create a steam bath by turning on all the showers on their floor, which meant cold showers for everyone in the dorm the next morning.
And the boys of Delta House had nothing on us when it came to food fights. The university actually called in the police. Not campus security. City police. Seriously, with police visible against three walls they really thought a food fight would break out? We weren’t stupid. We were college students.
We even had an ‘Otter’ who had transformed the basic cinder block cells called dorm rooms into his personal love nest/lounge. Throw rugs were added to cover the bland vinyl floor. A dimmer switch was installed for the fluorescent lights. Bunk beds cleared floor space for floor pillows and easy chairs. The closet housed a wet bar and the stereo equipment. (Clothes were not a priority.) The speakers were placed into the drop ceiling. I don’t remember if he graduated….
Then there were the fire alarms. It was best not to throw your clothes in a hamper until the next day because you really didn’t want to stand outside in the cold and dark in just jammies and a robe since the alarms tended to come in twos and threes/night. There was a monetary fine if we didn’t evac ($100? maybe only $50…). Most of us quickly became unamused by the lack of sleep. So did the fire department and campus admin who seemed to deliberately force us to stay outside longer than necessary to ensure there was no fire and we could go back to sleep. Of course, there were times when those with cars would head to Dunkin’ Donuts for snacks and coffee. But when another dorm decided to compete for Most Fire Alarms in One Semester, it was time to move out of the animal house.
We were, of course, in the lead with over 300 alarms in one semester. Of all the alarms over the years, only one was an actual fire by someone making popcorn. On a stove in the common area. In a pot with no lid. Substituting a paper plate instead was foolish.
Campus and dorm life has changed since I’ve attended college.
Cigarette smoking was legal everywhere on campus (lounge area in the library).
Drinking was legal since the legal age was 18 (and we were mostly legal).
We had TGIF parties every week where students, staff and faculty socialized together. Yes, we socialized with our professors and bought them drinks. Drinks were 75 cents and depending on who was tending bar, I could buy three for that price.
We cooked in our rooms with hot pots, hot plates and toaster ovens. They are all illegal now, but electric blankets and microwave ovens aren’t. Go figure.
Live Christmas trees were illegal but since I didn’t put lights on it, no one ratted. Some strung Christmas lights but had no trees. There were lava lamps.
‘Quiet hours’ didn’t exist in any dorm – designated or not. If you wanted quiet, you went to the library to study.
There were no drug tests and no one checked for prescriptions.
We hung all kinds of things from the ceilings and on the walls. Some even built platform and loft beds in their rooms. Furniture was moved in and out of rooms and common areas. We put everything back in place at the end of the year when it was checklist time.
We had a sundeck and telescope on our roof and we used them.
Social networking meant meeting people face to face so that you could provide the police (if need be) with a full description including height, weight and natural hair color instead of an avatar.
We had nicknames not handles.
Texting meant writing a note on a white board (not provided by the university) hung on someone’s dorm room door. Because we learned to write longhand in grammar school.
Uploading/downloading meant reading books made of paper and writing papers with pen, pencil or typewriter. No data usage restrictions. No auto spellcheck.
We used real keys and didn’t need passwords. If someone asked for a password you directed them to the campus shrinks and backed away from them — slowly.
We didn’t carry phones with us. They were placed in every dorm room and all university buildings and you could call anywhere on campus by dialing an extension. No contract fees, usage charges or limitations. Reception was not an issue.
We didn’t Google. We called campus information or a reference librarian. We knew our way around the Dewey decimal system.
Watching movies was a social event at the student center — on a theater sized screen. We didn’t have to crowd around a small handheld screen.
We had a coffeehouse on campus that served one flavor of coffee: brown. With a choice of whole milk or Cremora. One size. There was, however, a wide selection of herbal teas available.
Almost everyone had a roommate to deal with since single rooms weren’t much larger than a utility closet. We kept our room doors open. We knew everyone on our floor and in our dorm.
No one had a private bathroom or shower. This meant we did not need a membership at Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s to stock up on toilet paper — nor did we need to clean them. And in the shower room, if you ran out of shampoo, someone would toss you a bottle over the stall wall. Because we learned about sharing and building relationships in kindergarten.
The Buddy System still worked. (It'[s forever.)
I wouldn’t want to live at college these days. Today’s students may have multiple electronic gadgets and be constantly online, but they’re also living in a solitary universe with earplugs listening to music they’re streaming or downloading. They don’t own stereos. They judge people by their Facebook profiles, digital ‘friends’ and associated likes and value such data more than human interaction. They believe everything on the net is true: dinosaur poaching in the 21st century?? They can’t count, add or subtract change because they use debit cards. And they know how to shoot guns.
Good thing my dorm days are long over. In those days, living dangerously referred to eating the food at the dining hall.