Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Saturday evening, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a strange smell emanated from the Willets third hallway. Upon investigation, the residents nearby identified the source of the smell as feces littered outside their doors. The three lumps were on the carpet, nondescript amongst the debris from parties and pizza dinners. A brown paper bag lay scrunched up nearby.
The residents of Willets third met the discovery of excrement in their hall with shock and hysteria. A small crowd soon gathered, many there were bewildered. Bennett Parrish ‘18 said “it took like 10 minutes for it to finally sink in.” After some chaos, he and his friends sought out their RA, Michael Meuth ‘17 who, “after freaking out, reluctantly agreed to scoop up the poop with a plastic cup and tossed it in the trash,” according to Parrish. The other, smaller fecal fragments were picked up by members of the hall wielding Target plastic bags and multiple layers of paper towels. The carpet was thoroughly doused with rubbing alcohol, but a brown patch lingered in the fabric.
The presence of feces in the hall raised multiple immediate questions amongst the residents of Willets third.
“How did someone possibly poop in the hallway?” Meuth said. “Like, I just want to know the logistics of it. Yeah, given a), it’s a crowded place and b), I assume the person was wearing pants, or some sort of lower garments, like, what happens there?”
Between the looks of horror and mirth exchanged, it was obvious that no one missed out on the absurdity of the incident.
Most of the confusion was directed towards the source of the feces. The residents living adjacent to the location of the incident claimed to have kept the doors to their room open all evening. As a fairly populous hall at a usually busy time of night, those on Willets third wondered how anyone could have done this without being noticed.
Later that evening, a few members of the hall decided to investigate. According to Parrish, the trail started in the hallway and “went all the way to the lounge, across the lounge, into the women’s bathroom.” They found more feces on the floor of the first stall.
Though still curious about the source of the feces, their investigations remained inconclusive and those responsible were never found.
To the residents of Willets third, the incident was unique in its intensity, even though the hall has a reputation of frequently having to deal with similar situations. Lamberty noted that “I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff in Willets, we’ve had water fountains puked in, we’ve had plenty of mice, we’ve had cockroaches, mold, mildew. I mean, it’s Willets. I guess I never, I never expected someone to shit on the floor.”
Nonetheless, the event also introduced questions about hygiene.
“These were new carpets” said Henry Wilson ‘18, another third floor resident. “I thought I could walk around here in bare feet.”
Throughout the next few days, residents could be heard alerting their friends, half jokingly, to wear shoes in the hallways.
Despite the initial unease and the potential risks of finding human waste in the carpet, residents in Willets third seemed delighted by what took place.
“I’m thrilled that this happened,” said Parrish. “Willets third is a very entertaining place to live, and this really livened up our evening. Also, we take pride in these kinds of things happening.”
Many people were seen huddled around the feces, recording the incident on their phones. Parrish himself rushes out of the hall saying “people need to know about this”.
The occurrence was immediately broadcasted over social media. Many of the top posts on the anonymous social media app YikYak that evening were about the debacle on Willets third. One declared, “Shit happens. Especially on Willets 3rd.” Judging by the number of Yaks and upvotes they received, the incident had entertained the whole campus.