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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Good Living in Iconic Tower

By Philip Kiely ’20

Gates Hall houses a plaque honoring a 19th century Grinnell College president; gothic-architectural elements and, in the tower, Aidan Healey ’17, Stewart Bass ’18, Whitney Teagle ’18, Sophie Wynde ’19 and Emily Burgess ’19. The five cross-country and track runners live in a five-person suite unlike any other residence on campus.

In addition to the opportunity to live in the tower featured in nearly every piece of Grinnell marketing material, the group draw contains several rooms and amenities including an extra set of furniture and a phone booth.

“You can fit eleven or twelve people in the phone booth at one time with the door closed,” Wynde said.

“They were all cross-country runners who were all relatively small people,” Burgess added.

The phone booth contains a functional landline phone.

“I broke my phone at the end of last semester and needed to call my family… so I think that I ended up sending an email to my mom saying ‘call this number at this time,’” Burgess said.

The phone is a remnant of the formerly school wide phone network.

“Before my first year every single room on campus had a phone that you could call from any other on-campus phone. My first year they took most of the phones out; but some of them on campus stayed,” Bass said.

In addition to the phone, the floor is unique as it is one of the two five-person draws available to students.

“I think what makes it special is that it’s a five-person draw, and there are only two five-person draws on campus. You can enter a group draw before normal room draw…you apply for a certain group draw on campus, like a quad or an apartment, you can rank them…There are a bunch of four-person draws and a bunch of triples, but there are only two five-person draws, one being Gates tower and the other an apartment,” Bass said.

Aidan Healey ’17, Stewart Bass ’18, Sophie Wynde ’19 and Emily Burgess ’19 pose in the phone booth. Not pictured: Whitney Teagle ’18.
Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

Overall, the five friends are quite happy with their floor.

“It’s a lot quieter up here than a lot of other dorm floors. We’ll occasionally get some noise from below us, but that is usually on a Friday or Saturday night,” Burgess said.

“It’s nice to know everyone here; we don’t really have problems with people on the floor. Sometimes … in a normal dorm you get someone who makes a lot of noise late at night … or ride their bicycle in the hallway, that happened my first year,” Healey said.

The five runners found that the space has advantages and disadvantages for after practice.

“Because it’s such a large space, we can have team events here too, especially because it is so centralized,” Burgess said.

However, over winter break, it was less convenient.

“After morning practice you have to walk all the way up here to get your food, then if you need to prepare it you have to walk all the way back down to the first floor to the kitchen to make it, then once you’ve done that you have to bring everything all the way back upstairs.”

Healey estimated a one-way trip at seventy stairs.

“Another great thing about being in the most noticeably tall building on campus, the first time it snowed…I looked out over Mac Field and everything was white … it was beautiful and serene,” Bass said.

Ultimately, what makes any residence special are the personal touches.

“I think that what makes this place special is just the quirks that we’ve kind of put around, we all mess around on each other’s whiteboards, we sometimes get weird decorations that we hang up and just wait for someone to notice. There are a couple things written on the tiles in the bathroom from years past,” Bass said.

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