Private? Not for me.
As someone who’s in her third year at the College, I like to think I know my way around the various buildings on campus pretty well. The views from the top of Fairchild Hall are incredible. Thayer Dining Hall is beautiful and has the most delicious frozen yogurt on campus. The patio at the Top of the Hop is the underrated second cousin of the Collis porch. The basement of the Fayerweather Halls is the best dorm basement unless you’re a freshman obsessed with The Cellar. The most wonderful thing about all these spaces is that they’re open to everyone. This week, though, in the interest of writing a story on privacy, I decided to get into some of the most guarded spaces on campus — the more intimidating the sign on the door, the better.
I started with some low-hanging fruit — the door marked “Private” in a pretty font on the second floor of the periodicals room. The door was unlocked and opening it only confirmed what I already knew — it’s a bathroom. The L-shaped room boasts high ceilings, a single toilet and its very own issue of LAV Notes. According to numerous sources, the second-floor periodicals bathroom offers one of the most ideal spots if you are looking for a little privacy.
With the first door opened and its secrets revealed, I expected that my challenge of gaining entry into private rooms would get progressively harder moving forward. The opposite, however, proved to be true, and it proved to be quite simple to gain access. I sauntered into the math student and faculty lounge on the top floor of Kemeny Hall like I owned the place, slightly disappointed by how easy it was to go unnoticed and wishing I’d brought my backpack with me so I could stay there longer and study.
From there, my success at gaining entry into off-limit locations took a downward turn. The top floor of Steele Hall has always intrigued me from the outside — it looks like there could be a cool glass room up there — but alas my trek to the top was futile as both doors were locked and the elevator required a key. I heard some loud noises coming from the other side of the door. If this were Hogwarts, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a three-headed dog back there. I incurred some sketchy looks from what appeared to be a TA — it must be that obvious that the hard sciences and I are not the best of friends. What I did find, however, were some cute post-it notes of people bonding over their shared love of the unreal view of the sunset from that spot. Even after trolling the hallways and accosting all that passed by, I was unable to find anyone who was able to give me access to this elevator. Perhaps if you continue reading The Mirror, you may someday read about my successful quest to reach the top floor of Steele. It’s officially on my bucket list to get up there.
After some independent sleuthing, I decided to call in the big guns and start going into spaces that I’d have to assemble an Ocean’s Thirteenesque scheme to enter on my own. My first stop was the Rauner Special Collections Library. I’d been tipped off by a friend that Rauner Annex connects to Baker-Berry Library — who knew? I followed special collections librarian Jay Satterfield down several flights of stairs and through multiple ID- and passcode-protected doors into the depths of the stacks, which house thousands of books. We walked through a few more passages — and voilà! We found ourselves in the Orozco mural room. I kept musing to Satterfield that it is “sooo cool” that there is a tunnel that connects Rauner to Baker-Berry. This would definitely be my new favorite warmcut if it didn’t require passcodes and didn’t take about five times as long as simply walking outside would. Still, I don’t discriminate warmcuts. Despite my enthusiasm, Satterfield insisted that I do not sensationalize the tunnel as it is merely a storage space.
And thieves beware: the collection is randomized on the shelves, so “if you did have ill intent, you’d never be able to find the thing you wanted,” Satterfield said.
Next I wandered to through the Hopkins Center, where I found perhaps the most intimidating sign yet. The sign on the door of Moore Theater read, “Stage Right — Open Slowly — Restricted Area: Authorized Employees Only.” Yikes. Being the fearless investigative journalist that I am, however, I was not discouraged and soon convinced someone to let me in, finding myself backstage of Moore Theater. I was amazed by the immense size of the stage and how little of it is actually seen by the audience when productions take place. There, I bumped into director of this spring’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along” (1981) Max Gottschall ’15, who acknowledged that productions tend to use very little of the stage.
“What you want to create is the illusion of privacy because you’re looking through the fourth wall into someone’s private life,” Gottschall said in reference to the more intimate environment this creates. If the stage is too big, it’s hard for the audience to connect. He also described the private world that exists backstage during a production.
“I once had to bite a blood capsule and then run offstage,” Gotsschall said. “This poor girl, her job was to be my spit catcher.”
Satisfied with this trip, I headed to the last stop on my journey — the still life library in the Black Family Visual Arts Center. A friend of mine who often spent much of her time at the VAC once told me about their locked still-life closets, which are filled with all the stuff you paint or draw, like fruit, books and, of course, dead animals. I found the two doors to the still life library on the third floor. The first closet was reminiscent of a small boutique, full of color-coded objects — your typical still life fanfare. The second, in contrast, was mostly white objects and housed a few surprising guests, like little boxes of preserved beetles and dusty white books.
“We have a lot of skeletons in our closet,” studio art intern Julian MacMillan ’14 said in reference to the fake corpses that are available to paint or draw. I wouldn’t want to get stuck in there playing hide-and-seek.
Although we at The Mirror don’t condone breaking and entering, it can at times lead to seeing the College in a whole new light. You never know what could be behind that random door you’ve always wondered about. I’d say take a peek, maybe you’ll find a bathroom, a new study spot or even a three-headed dog.