Bruner: Splitting into suites

The time: midnight on a cold evening in December. The setting: the dark, gloomy stairwell of Bingham A. The scene: a small, solitary girl approaching a door, fumbling to take out her keys. Suddenly, two obscure figures materialize on the ill-lit landing. They walk up to her, loud footsteps echoing on the tile floor, and tap her sharply on the shoulder. Startled, she swivels and looks up at their half-hidden faces, concealed by a bundle of hats and scarves. Their expressions are drowned in shadows.

“So, we were wondering if… if you’re interested… if you’d want to live with us next year?”

“Yes! Yes! Absolutely!”

“Excellent. Just don’t tell the others. Not yet, anyway.”

Voices are heard echoing down the stairs. The key turns in the lock; the trio hurriedly parts ways, to be reunited later as they plan their future suite in a more secluded spot.

I was the girl with the keys. And, for me, this was how the process of rooming drama — and its partner in crime, social division — began. It came with clandestine meetings and furtive exchanges. The rooming conversation was awkwardly avoided until after spring break, when those who had been planning configurations proudly announced their perfect suites.

Room draw is a means of defining the relationships we’ve formed over the course of a year, distilling those still-uncertain bonds into distinct categories. It brings stress, drama and a tinge of hysteria (though according to my Intro Psych class, we will be just as happy in an undesirable dorm as we will in a desirable one). But most of all, it brings division — after a year of living with a group of people selected by a dean and learning to adjust to an unexpected community of unlikely friends, we’re now marking out the territory of our own social space.

Old Campus is my home this year, and in its confines I have found friendship with people purely by chance, purely because of living arrangements chosen by a dean who hadn’t yet met me. Living in Bingham made me a more flexible friend and participant in my college’s freshman class. Last night, I went to my suitemate’s dance show with my roommate — will I do the same in the future, when the proximity of our bedrooms changes?

Last week, in my college, the majority of Calhoun’s Class of 2013 sprawled in the chairs of our dining hall waiting for a set of numbers to decide our future homes. We had gathered as a class, but we weren’t cohesive. Weeks before, as room draw neared, we began to split into suites. Now the transformation was complete — we had solidified our statuses as parts of particular networks by selecting people to live with. Next year, we will no longer need to cross entryways and climb stairwells to find our closest friends; come August, many of us will live with them. We are now confined and defined by those we’ve chosen.

I am happy to be moving into my college with my closest friends and looking forward to sharing late-night snacks in a cozy common room. I will live with people I know. I will sleep in social safety. But I’ll miss the unanticipated Old Campus moments and late-night conversations with unexpected people.

Raisa Bruner is a freshman in Calhoun College and a Production and Design staffer for the News.

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