Residents of second court stood back appalled at the closing of their lounge: a place where many students, not just second court residents, could congregate, study, cook and bond. It is a place that was recently decorated in student artwork, creating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. It was a place that days before midterms, students frantically studied together, power-napped together and stressed out together. However, the popular congregating spot also became a place filled with foul remnants of weekends and all-nighters past, making it the responsibility of New College custodians to take care of.
On Friday, Nov. 14, a notice was sent out to all second court residents explaining that the lounge would be closed due to its unkempt and misused conditions for “an extended period of time.” The lounge was to re-open on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
“I talked to some of the custodial workers and they said there had been a few incidents where people had been cooking and there was chocolate on the walls,” third-year and second court RA Brennan Kent said. “The worst part for me was that there were instances of people throwing up in the bathroom over the weekend and it being left until Monday morning, then the custodial workers have to clean it which is a hell anyone shouldn’t ever have to deal with. A temporary close showed that it’s either that or the whole court being charged.”
For first-year and second court resident Carl Polack, the lounge served as a place where he could be around his friends and cook.
“I felt deceived, I guess,” Polack said. “Having a community space is very important in living on a college campus and the removal of said community space is and was unacceptable.” However, Polack did acknowledge that the conditions of the lounge were not as clean as they should be. “The lounge was often in unacceptable condition and due to this fact, the people in residential life wanted to charge all the people in second court. The RAs were put in a very difficult position: either charge all the students, or close the lounge for a certain period of time. I think it was in everyone’s best interest to not be charged. No one wanted to be charged money for keeping the lounge in unacceptable condition.”
For first-year and second court resident Sarah Cohen, the temporary close posed other problems.
“My toilet broke Friday morning and I thought little of it until I realized, Friday at five, the closest other resource would be closed!” Cohen said. “I put in a work order but of course the weekend interfered, so I ended up going without a nearby restroom for five days. The closest was Ham. It was rough.”
Despite the brief, but perhaps effective, punishment, another problem surfaced during the period of its closing: the door handle leading from the laundry room to the lounge appeared to be intentionally removed in order to access the lounge. RAs believed the second court residents were trying to fight back against their mild punishment and take back what they believed to be theirs. Another notice was sent to second court residents calling on an emergency meeting upon the re-opening of the lounge to discuss expectations as well as determining who removed the door handle to the lounge. In the event that person did not come forward, residents were informed of a fine split among everyone in second court, whether they used the lounge often or not, as well as the permanent closing of the lounge. This, of course, caused an uproar of dissatisfaction among residents.
Eventually, the person who attempted to remove the handle came forward and admitted to the accusations. According to several students, the removal of the handle was an accident and the person had no intentions to enter the lounge or retaliate to the punishment. This person now must pay a fine, but fortunately has lifted the burden from their fellow residents. As for as the effectiveness of the punishment, many students did not believe it to be beneficial. According to many, it felt more like timeout and only caused the perpetrators of the actions to go to different lounges and use them instead. However, if an incident similar to this happens again, the repercussions will not be as light.
“The lounge will probably be closed again and probably for longer,” Kent said. “Worse case scenario the entire court will get charged. But I am optimistic something like this won’t happen again.”