Home sweet housing
Gathering your belongings
By Justin Hensley
CONFLICT resolution is among the most important lessons that residence hall life teaches.
Indeed, the dispute between Sean and Dave had escalated to an all-time high, so Sean hid in Dave's closet for two hours, waiting for him to leave. Then he relocated the room's contents to the community bathroom.
When Dave returned, the air was electric, crackling like a hundred jock straps popped in unison.
Thankfully, Darren came to the rescue using skills that can only be found in an all-male hall. He stepped between the two, threatened to fight them and began to remove his clothing. Out of sheer horror, everyone witnessing the incident ran away before he could finish and the conflict was avoided.
Even so, perhaps problem solving is the most important skill one gains when living in a dorm.
For example, when Justin (no, not me) and Greg wanted to fill a neighbor's toothpaste tube with shaving gel, put sand in his bed, or rub Vaseline on faucets and closet doorknobs, they had to get past the locked door. After failing to remove the hinges, they decided to enter through the window. However, they lived on the third floor.
Thankfully, they had rappelled enough to know how to securely tie themselves off before swinging out their window into their victim's room.
When pinned in their room during a water fight, marshmallow fight, or frozen-poultry-of-choice fight, the two had to think quickly. Even when a rope tied to their doorknob, their neighbor's doorknob, and the nearest water fountain was used to trap them, they managed to escape. Eventually.
Plan A: Open the door as far as possible (about one inch) and use a can of hair spray as a blow torch to burn through the rope. (Snipers with water guns quickly hosed down the blow torch.)
Plan B: Drill (yes, drill) a hole through the inch-thick wood door, squirting water and shaving cream at the snipers to divert their attention. (The snipers merely stepped out of the way -- you can't really aim through a hole.)
Plan C: Squeeze an umbrella through the opening and use it to shield the water as the other man cuts through the rope (simple, yet effective).
Still, I think conflict resolution and problem solving are not the most important things learned in the residence halls.
It's the sense of community that permeates your life.
When somebody steals your towel from the shower and you have to chase him naked down the hall, or you run across campus at midnight in your underwear the first time it snows, that's when you can stand with pride (once recovering your towel) and say, "I belong, darn it! And I'm not alone or afraid anymore ! Now, please:
"Get out of my room so I can put some clothes on."
Justin Hensley is an English and radio-TV-film senior from Bartlesville, Okla. You may write to him at