We are Upper West
Written by Breana Noble
From the excitement of freshman convocation to a budding sense of homesickness at the overwhelming number of strangers, to the anxiousness of already having a thick pile of reading due by Monday, the first week of college was nothing like I’d ever experienced.
I found sanctuary in my suitemates’ room in the Upper West hallway of McIntyre Dormitory. A group of girls from my hall sat crisscross on the floor chatting when one of our resident assistants joined us on the ground.
After sharing some humorous anecdotes from her freshman year, she asked, “What were everyone’s high points and low points of the week?”
One by one, we went around the circle, smiling as each “Mac-ie” shared her highlight, empathizing with one another as we revealed our struggle or embarrassing moment from the first days of college. That night, in the crazy midst of entering a whole new chapter of my life, I realized I wasn’t alone.
Before I knew it, the doors in the Upper West hallway of my dorm were always left open, welcoming all the friends I was making. It wasn’t unusual to walk into my room and find one of the girls sprawled on the floor of my abandoned dorm between Western Heritage readings and her laptop.
We bonded over our loads of homework. A group of us would plop ourselves down in one of our rooms for study parties, and when we weren’t in a room, the middle of the hallway worked just as well. Though we were quiet for the sake of an effective study environment, the workload did not seem as overbearing when doing it with friends.
Our relationships extended beyond books and essays, though. “Mac Movie Nights” were set for Saturdays, and we squealed every time Mr. Darcy appeared on the screen in Pride and Prejudice. We bonded around our obsession with the Nancy Drew Mysteries computer games, taking turns playing the game on weekend nights. Mondays became Upper West ice cream socials in AJ’s Café, and every once in a while you might walk into your room to find photos of Chuck Norris hidden in the oddest spaces, or polka dots of Ronald Reagan taped to the back of the closet.
This was more than just friendship. I found a sisterhood in these girls as many of us drove to church together, partook in a Bible study at a nearby off-campus house, and prayed for one another at our weekly dinners in the dining hall. We supported each other’s talents by attending concerts and performances and reading Collegian newspaper articles we wrote. We had formed a community, and none of us wanted to give that up.
When the time came to apply for housing the next year, an upperclassmen from our Bible study suggested we speak with Dean of Women Diane Philipp if we wanted to find ourselves in the same dorm next year.
In a meeting with Mrs.Philipp, she said she was impressed by the strong bonds we had formed. Though making no promises, the dean said she would do the best she could and just before the spring semester’s end, she emailed us with news that she could place us together in (the upper west side of) Koon Dormitory. We jumped on the chance.
This year, though we’ve swapped around roommates, and ice cream on Mondays has been replaced by farmers’ market watermelon, one thing has stayed the same: We are still a community of girls supporting one another through college life. We are still Upper West.
Breana Noble, ’18, is a student from Michigan studying American studies and journalism. She is a member of the Dow Journalism Program; is an assistant news editor for Hillsdale’s school newspaper, the Collegian, and has interned at Newsmax Media in Washington, D.C. through the National Journalism Center.