August 2, 2002
It was this day ten years ago when I got my very first apartment. It was the summer before my junior year of college and I was desperate to get the hell off campus. Up until then I was the most financially responsible person you’d meet in your life. I could tell you the serial numbers on every dollar I ever spent, because each one was near and dear to my heart. But my campus experience was so bad that I was willing to break a few of my “don’t end up a statistic” rules and take some chances with my credit. I wrote about the crazy roommates. Well here’s the other half of my decision to leave:
Freshman year I lived in a dorm called Chidley Hall. It’s where they bred Spartans to go fight with the 300. If you can make it in Chidley then no weapon formed against you shall prosper, no bacterial spore or biological agent can harm you and your body becomes numb to the peril of abject poverty. It was, by far, the worst place I’ve ever lived and that includes the high rise building I grew up in where someone got shot in the elevator, people peed in the stairwells and the security guards broke in our apartment and stole all our stuff.
The winter of my discontent all started when I visited my friends over at Duke. We all went to high school together but they actually studied, so they went to a better school. The first thing that bothered me was that I didn’t have to sign in when I got to their dorm. No person in the lobby taking IDs and their vending machines had food in them. No one had flipped it over or kicked in the glass to steal the stuff.
Second, their dorm was not only co-ed but boys and girls lived on the same floor. My HBCU subscribed to the theory that women can only get pregnant between midnight and 9AM which is why we weren’t allowed to have co-ed visitation between those hours. Even the co-ed dorms are split by floor and intermingling was prohibited. In fact, I was taken “into custody” by campus police because the night patrol guy heard a fully dressed girl laugh in my dorm at 12:15 at night. I was issued a citation and then forced to go to a tribunal in front of the dorm director to beg for mercy so that they wouldn’t kick me off campus in the middle of the semester. My “plea” sounded eerily similar to Morgan Freeman’s parole hearing speech in The Shawshank Redemption.
Those things plus the horrible, horrible food in the cafeteria annoyed me, but what really pushed me over the edge…There’s not enough memory on your computer or space on the internet to tell you but…….
- People spraying Lysol on the toilet seats and setting them on fire
- Pouring food down the bathroom sinks as if they had garbage disposals
- Flushing rolls of toilet paper causing a backup and a river of shit to flow down the hall
- Gigantic Mega Cockroaches flying around the shower stalls like bats in the batcave
- A dozen or so rapes in a month as girls snuck out of our dorm after visiting hours
- Pulling the fire alarm every night at one in the morning for three weeks straight
- The Bloods from the projects down the street kicking in our security door and beating the hell outta some guy
- Breaking in people’s rooms on the first floor by removing the A/C unit from the window
- Some days no hot water. Other days no cold water.
- Peeing in the dryers in the laundry rooms with the clothes still in them.
I could go on, but that’s the stuff I remember from the first semester. My sophomore year was better because I was in a newer building cleverly named New Residence Hall I. Besides the crazy roommate, it wasn’t too bad except I kept waking up with nosebleeds and headaches. Also, I kept asking about this black stuff growing on my air vent and they told me it was just dust. The entire ceiling in the trash room was covered in this “dust,” but no one paid me any attention. A couple of years later they shut down the whole dorm and put the students in hotels because the place was infested with mold.
Each year you had to stand in this long FEMA-esque line to put in a bid for the dorm you wanted the following year. I had tests that day so by the time I got there they only had rooms left in Chidley. Like most prisoners, I vowed to never go back. I signed my first lease with no cosigner and haven’t looked back…but Lord if that first place wasn’t a challenge.
To be continued