I thought I would take a few moments to register a possibly dated view of my decision-making process (in 1984) regarding choice of living space and why I to this day regard that choice as a good one.
I arrived during Rush Week of 1984 and stayed at Random Hall for Rush week. I avoided the “Greek System” and toured East Campus, Bexley, Senior House, Baker House, Next House, and Burton/Conner.
I chose Senior House, and the decision was a good one. There is no question that adverse events happen on the East Side as well as the West Side and off campus- the Runkle fire happened on my third or fourth night there; I knew the young man who fell or jumped to his death a few years later. These sorts of events are scattered across the campus and are not in any way unique to Senior House or any other residence hall.
I found Senior House (and the east side of campus) a uniquely tolerant environment. Gay, straight, republican, democrat, libertarian, christian, jewish, muslim, black. white: there was and I hope still is an environment of open tolerance. I can think offhand of six or so people just in my first two years who transferred to Senior House from fraternities, sororities, or other dorms because they found themselves living in openly hostile environments due to race and sexual orientation and had to move. For two years I managed room assignments in Senior House and thus was briefed on all transfers into the dorm. The desire to form a community of tolerance manifests in many ways. The grey walls and yellow lights I remember from visiting Burton-Connor contrast with colorful murals. Cafeteria eating at Baker contrasted with kitchens where students could cook vegan or gluten-free meals. Izod shirts and Sperry topsiders on the west side contrasted with purple hair and tie-dye on the East side.
I hope that an oasis of individual liberty and freedom exists still on campus, even if it looks like The Island of Misfit Toys to visitors. Murals and tie-dye and green hair are the lighthouses that signal the entrance to a safe harbor for victims of prejudice on campus.
thank you for your attention.