Pierce Tower is probably the most bashed dorm on campus. Its rooms are compared to closets and prison cells. Its food is likened to road kill and British cuisine. Outsiders are shocked to hear that co-ed bathrooms can exist somewhere outside of Amsterdam. Having heard all this trash talk before I received my housing assignment, I, like many others who were blind but now can see, immediately looked up the policy on changing dorms. I wondered what I had said in my housing application form to convince the housing committee that I was into living in small spaces (9 feet by 11 feet, to be miserably exact). My vision of communal bathrooms was soap on a ropeit wasn’t a good vision. I figured smoking wasn’t allowed in the dorm because the building was such a fire hazard. The memo I received a few weeks later saying construction was going to be done on Pierce throughout the school year didn’t raise my spirits.
On the ride from my hotel to campus on the first day of O-Week, I was clearly expecting the worst. However, my perception of Pierce Tower dramatically changed upon arrival. I realized Pierce was another sad, sad victim of propaganda and jealous rumors. It didn’t look nearly as much like a tenement as the picture portrayed it. It looked more like a really low-budget skyscraper.
The rooms weren’t the nightmarish cubbyholes of claustrophobia I thought either. They were a big 9×11. I saw what a good location the dorm had, too. For one, it’s right next to the football field. Consequently, Pierce residents have the opportunity to listen to the football players speak in tongues every afternoon as they practice. It’s also right on 55th Street. Just in case the building caught on fire, there’s a fire department right across the street. Although the U of C isn’t in this fire department’s jurisdiction, a Pierce resident could signal them through smoke signals to call another fire department. 55th Street also provides the soothing music of ambulance sirens.
Pierce is more about the social scene than anything else. Because you can’t sit in a 9×11 room for too long before you start hearing voices, nobody in Pierce is anti-social. Take Tufts House, for instance. There’s always somebody in the lounge climbing up the wall, risking a twenty-foot fall in order to write his or her name on the ceiling. There’re always people in the TV room refining their social and cultural awareness with quality programming such as “Family Guy.” Watching the Red Sox lose is also a popular group activity. There’s a whiteboard where the insights of the smashed are displayed for all to see. Third-years hustle groups of first-years in Texas Hold Em. Others link up Xboxes to play the game voted most popular by thirty-something unemployed males, Halo.
Considering all these irrefutable evidence for the greatness of Pierce, it’s strange how it has achieved such a bad reputation. Jealousy is the only clear explanation. Shorelanders quickly grow tired of their luxury hotel rooms and yearn for the 9×11. Max Palevskyites wish they knew the kid who hides in his triple because he can. Someday Pierce will rise above the propaganda and the jealousy that propagates it. Or maybe it never will, and it will just continue to take the abuse with honor. Either way, its rooms aren’t that small.