The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

New Theme Dorms Give Chittick an Annex

On the morning of September 27th, residents of Chittick awoke to find a wing of their dorm amputated.

The missing wing was a recent addition students of the new Art and Circus theme dorms had built in celebration of the new school year. For three days before the beginning of class, a small fort was erected in front of the East entrance of Chittick, made of cardboard boxes and duct tape.

It was “a spontaneous first effort,” says Jeanie Lee, a resident of the Art dorm, started by the dorms two theme dorms. The fort, made of cardboard boxes left over from move-in, and large quantities of duct tape, featured rooms; a built-in trapdoor; a purple, silver, and gold sign; and a flag.

The flag was a Union Jack with a green balloon dog, a bra, and a maple leaf sewn on, flown from a stripper pole. What did these elements represent? “Our sexual frustration,” says Lee.

“Also we like dogs,” adds Lauren Nelson.

Though many Chittickers say they enjoyed the fort, it was also called an “eyesore” by at least one resident, and Chittick’s custodian made her disapproval clear. Nelson recalls playing in the fort as a tour guide led prospective students and parents past. “They were kind of embarrassed by it,” she says. “I saw a lot of parents shaking their heads.”

The fort anticipates a new identity for the socially oriented dorm that now hosts two all-new theme dorms. “This is a very very new Chittick,” says Lee. “It is a very different Chittick from last year.”

But, she adds, the fort will not be the Art dorm’s high point. “When we get there, you’ll know,” she says.

“We have to make our art good so people don’t throw it away all the time.”

The construction was a collaborative effort. Lee in particular had a number of “innovative solutions,” says Jimmy Curry. Curry characterized his own involvement: “I kind of hung out and pretended I built.”

An effort to extend the life of the fort through the construction of a roof failed. “That’s ’cause I never worked on it,” says Lee.

When the fort collapsed, Chittickers cleaned up about half of it, they say. The remainder of the fort mysteriously disappeared overnight. “I bet it’s in someone’s room right now,” says Lee.

What lessons did the young theme dorms learn from the endeavor? “We have to make our art good so people don’t throw it away all the time,” says Claire Brumbaugh-Smith, of Art dorm.

But for most of the dorms’ dwellers, this learning will have to come from practice, not the classroom. Most of Art dorm’s residents are not majoring in art.

“Art is our life, it’s not our major,” says Lee.

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