No Gods, No Masters, No Housing Ⓐdvisors

A Reflection on Anarchy Floor, Scholz 2

The culture of any given residence hall is usually, at least in part, inspired by the hall’s House Advisor. But what if there is no HA?

On September 12, 2018, the residents of Scholz 2 (including myself) were informed via email that our HA was “stepping away from the House Advisor role.” This is to document, and pay homage to, the month-long period wherein myself and twelve other underclassmen created our own non-hierarchical community from the ruins of tragedy.

For the first few weeks, we lived in limbo, still unsure of the circumstances that surrounded our HA’s removal from campus. In my check-in with the HA before xe was removed, I recall xem mentioning that xyr HA style was centered around using the floor’s common room as a resource to connect with residents — and that xe was purposefully placed in a dorm with a comically small common room so that xe could “push xyr limits.”

That’s what we were working with. Not only were we without an HA, but the Scholz 2 common room has no sink, dishwasher, or stove. It tops off at around 250 square feet. After our HA left, some of xyr objects remained there — a garbage bag full of clothes that mysteriously smelled like a campfire, a foldable stepladder, and a brochure rack of SSDP postcards detailing different drugs and their effects. These cards looked more like advertisements than anything, with vibrant graphics and photos on the front and information on the back.

On a night about a week into this newfound quiet anarchy, two or three residents were perusing the drug cards. More of us joined them until, eventually, the majority of Scholz 2 was involved with the papercraft of these brochures. We made them into collages, turned them into sendable postcards with stamps, and cut out snowflakes, taping them to the doorframe to make a tongue-in-cheek shrine to inebriation. This colorful mosaic of drug photographs now covers almost an entire wall.

That night, we pitched ideas for movie nights and events, many of which came into fruition in the weeks that followed. Whether a consciously or not, our cozy common room was put to more use after that night. Many of us bought food just for the sake of being Kommie; the pumpkin-shaped glass on the common room table is always filled with candy corn or other sweets. More decorations appeared. Van Gogh-esque sunflowers in an empty bottle of Kraken rum. String lights that give off a warm, ambient glow. Comics and conversations on the whiteboard.

Our needs as a dorm were addressed, and followed through with. We needed a toaster? A communal one was bought. The common room layout wasn’t working? Furniture was moved around. Nothing to do over fall break? A few residents took it upon themselves to plan outings and movie nights and invited the whole floor.

We hang posters for upcoming events (and of Richard F. Scholz himself.) The common room is always immaculate. Quiet hours rarely need to be enforced. We all get along with one another. Many ask if they can play music while they’re showering if someone is in the other stall, just as a courtesy. We all know who on the floor has a toolkit, a sewing kit, or nail polish remover, and we aren’t afraid to ask to borrow them if need be — perhaps recalling images of midcentury housewives asking their neighbors for a cup of sugar.

This is the culture we have made, and it did not rise from hierarchy or structure. Residents of Scholz 2 exist symbiotically not out of fear that an HA will reprimand us; rather, it was the result of a shared instinct to make the best community possible. If we as residents don’t step up to the plate, who will? We assume responsibility and make Scholz 2 great ourselves.  It is the Honor Principle in action. With great pride that I say I am a resident— no, a member — of Anarchy Floor.

Much of the appeal of an unsupervised Scholz 2 comes from how it demonstrates human solidarity in an anarchical setting. When given no rules or rulers, how does our common room not accumulate piles of trash and rotting food? Hell, it happens in Mac 3, and they have an HA. Scholz 2 is united through the assumption of responsibility that comes with creating a floor in the absence of structure. We had the power to make a community the way we want it, and so we did.

What we learned shouldn’t be applied only to residence halls in liberal arts colleges but in our day-to-day lives. In the true spirit of Anarchy Floor, this begs the question: how many other structures and institutions would flourish when the masses are in charge? Is this a demonstration of a more compassionate anarchy: not every person for themselves, but every person for all people?

These questions are by no means meant to disparage the concept of Housing Advisors. There are obvious merits to having an experienced mentor on the floor to provide support, offer mental health check-ins, set times for meetings, and manage dorm funds. I’m as much of an anarchist as any other radical leftist on campus, but one month-long case study is by no means a justification for overthrowing an age-old system. I am not advocating for the abolition of HAs, nor am I against the reinstatement of a new one on our floor, but somebody needed to document the experiment in human nature that arose from letting thirteen 17 to 20-year-olds live unsupervised. It’s something to be proud of. Creating a borderline utopian Anarchy Floor is, at least, a more positive reflection of the human experience than the Stanford Prison Experiment. We didn’t go all Lord of the Flies. Maybe this will go down in Reed infamy. I doubt it.

We’re getting a new HA, and, frankly, I’m glad. I don’t know how long I thought we would be allowed to exist without one. I’m excited to meet him and actually have access to dorm funds (maybe even get a dorm pet, like our last HA suggested), but this also marks the bittersweet end of an era. With the anarchy of Anarchy Floor coming to an end, I suppose that makes this piece a eulogy. But hopefully, the story of Scholz 2 — Anarchy Floor — can serve as a testament to the human tendency towards resilience, teamwork, and compassion, regardless of whether or not there is someone at the helm.

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