Dorms of years past

    It’s happened to us all. Somewhere between trying to escape the claustrophobia of our jail cell single, trying to study in a lounge that stinks of antiquity and reluctantly dishing out a mini-fortune each quarter for on-campus housing, we wonder: Did every generation of Northwestern students have to put up with this? Has Bobb always had its furniture chained to the ground? Was there ever a time when Allison was a hellhole to live in? 

    Despite evidence to the contrary, like that occasional visiting alumni who, upon stepping through the door, exclaims that nothing has changed in your dorm since the mid-Jurassic age, dorms have evolved over the years – and we have photographic proof, dug out from the dusty folders from the University Archives.

    Along with the changes came good memories as well, said Carol Cling, BSJ ’76, whose account we got from Shepard Residential College's alumni chair Lizzy Fillion. “Shepard had one of the very first computers on campus, somewhere in the 1972-75 range, and one of the first things we did was have a 'computer date' night, with each resident filling out totally random questionnaires to find his or her 'perfect' match. The party was fun, even if most of the matches were far from ideal...” 

    Like ancient civilizations, the quality of life in Northwestern's dorms waxed and waned, and unfortunately the Golden Ages of the dorms we investigated seems to be a hazy memory from decades past. From sun-roofs atop Willard to studio couches in Sargent, from sleek study pods in Bobb to a dining hall in Shepard, this collection will make you want to steal Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner and take that one-way trip down memory lane, or go up to Residential Services and scream, “How could you have let our dorms slide into this irreversible decline? Did you know that there used to be actually an iota of design aesthetic in our dorms? How is it that we put men on the moon but could not keep our dorms in a semi-decent condition?” 

    To prove our point, here is the historical low-down on six dorms that every Wildcat knows.

    Production by Hilary Fung, Sam Hart and Chris Keeve / North by Northwestern.


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