Imagine this likely scenario. After a long day working you return to your dorm room, ready to crash onto your bed and relax after twelve consecutive hours of classes, quizzes, and homework. You walk up to the door and reach into that one pouch of your bag that you always put your keys in. That spot has never failed you, until now. You drive your hand into the pocket, scrounging for the key to your salvation, the very lynchpin in the great mechanism which will bring you to the one sweet hope you have left in this harsh cruel world — your room. You feel nothing. You grope around in panic but your key is nowhere to be seen, and you fall into a deep despair.
I am certain that many of you have faced such an experience. Sure, you can call your roommate or Pub Safe, but it inevitably becomes a hassle, and even when you finally get the door unlocked, the act of going home has just become yet another task in your long list. Tragically, from the third day of classes to the current moment, the fine students of two whole dorms have been facing this perilous predicament every day. The lowly members of the PPR dorms, Pittenger and Palmer are tucked away across the baseball fields and are only accessible through a loooong walk or the shuttle. Like a student who has lost their keys, residents of these dorms have been unable to even enter their own homes in a timely fashion, and instead, must suffer.
The twin dorms are connected at the hip by a single passageway through which all residents pass through during the day, and students wishing to enter into this flow from the outside have but one choice. The door of the connector that leads to the outside, the veritable gate to the free world, has been missing a handle. The door that was once a pathway to the outside world has become a monument of futility. It’s become a sheer wall of wood and glass and its weight is more than enough to stop wanderers from trying to pry the door open at the seams. Because of all this, those wishing to enter into this glorious interconnected pathway cannot have the satisfaction of breathing the stale air of Pittenger into Palmer that is home for so many.
Students however, have learned to adapt. The great majority simply push a button and wait on their technological overlords to activate the door opening system for them, which by all accounts works, but this merely ignores the problem rather than dealing with it. Some students, in an act of denial and defiance, have stuffed a plastic bag through the hole where the handle was. One can assume they hope to fill the hole in their heart, but alas, it cannot be done. They are sorry souls indeed. But the true spirits, the people of virtue, chose the only real option in defiance to the handle and walk around the dorm to the front where there are handles aplenty. It seems that this is the only path for those with true pride in their Swarthmore ways.
More than that, students walking to their dorms will find that their exit from the college’s main campus has, too, been blocked off. The ramp leading to the pathway beneath the trainway has been blocked off for apparent reconstruction efforts. One can feel a student’s pain and despair as they are forced to walk past the ramp, which many have named as the funnest place on campus, and to the stairs near the rails that lead down to the same spot they would have been at 30 seconds ago if they had taken the ramp. This spot of declining seems to be closed for no apparent reason, as no one has been seen working on it, and no one looking into it can see a problem.
Many students believe that pathway cursed, and although recently the blockade is said to have been cleared, many really only consider this wide open passage a trap and walk around to the stairs instead. Students feel the stress and pressure of the “lack of ramp” on their mental health, and it is making an already bad Swarthmore season into an existential drama. (In the time since this article was written the ramp has been “opened” up again, but we can’t really trust that, can we?) And most disturbingly, the stress a student must feel from having to walk around the ramp, fearing being transported to the twilight zone, and then not being able to open the door to their dorm must be almost too much to bear. I ask that we offer a moment of silence for all of these students who suffer among us.
The students of Palmer and Pittenger have braved this storm in the hope of the eventual fixing of the door; many have reached out to Jeremy Koepf, the residential communities coordinator, in hopes of that very action. On Sept. 18, a full three weeks after the origin of the affliction, Mr. Koepf sent a message claiming that “the replacement Pull Plate for the damaged Door Pull is slated to ship from the factory by early next week and will be installed when it arrives.” It has been a full three weeks now since that message was released with little to no further action. Students have no choice now but to accept their lot and the sadness that comes from it. One Palmer resident, Kanto Pendor, comments, “I can’t believe the school has lied to us this way.” Handell Ouver says, “I haven’t seen my room in four weeks, I forgot where the front door is.”
The pain and suffering of these students is unimaginable, and it seems that only the strongest will make it out alive. The Phoenix reached out to Koepf for his comments but was denied because apparently it was “too late at night” to visit his home. We can only hope that the crisis for these students will be over soon, and that they will one day be relieved of their burden, and can live their lives on their own terms.