Move-in is a magical day for all. Roommates meet each other, everyone realizes they have forgotten to pack something close to their heart, and parents finally get a chance to offload their children to the leadership of new, slightly older children. SUVs the size of baby whales criss-cross every square inch of paved ground, with every imaginable door open at all times.
But this year, Gilbert Hall appeared to have more activity than the other dorms. Cars were double-parked, allowing families to rush in like moths to a flame. It was like watching a reverse clown car: Dozens — no, hundreds — of people walked in every hour, with only the occasional individual exiting.
I am no stranger to Gilbert in theory, but I cannot say I’m well acquainted with the building. I remembered the unconventional layout from years prior: Generic hallways at every turn combined with the ease of accidentally walking around in loops resulted in a perceived floor plan rivaling the greatest works of M. C. Escher.
When I ventured in to see where the families and students could be found, I was eventually met with a breathtaking seven-story atrium. I was confused and began to think I had mistakenly ended up in Wilson Commons. My confusion doubled when I remembered Gilbert only had four floors, including a basement. Strange, I thought to myself, yet a remarkably efficient use of space. I pressed on, walking by plenty of vacant dorms. Doesn’t the campus have a housing shortage?
Has Gilbert always been so cavernous? Maybe I’ve simply never ventured this deep. No, that cannot be. This must be new. It HAS to be new.
I stopped an RA and asked if she knew how old the obvious addition was. She didn’t know for certain but insisted nothing’s changed in the past 10 years. She entertained my numerous requests for her confirmation and I eventually conceded that I must be mistaken. For all I know, the additional surprise floors of Gilbert could have been obscured from street view by tree cover. And maybe I simply never stumbled upon the atrium before now. Could I be crazy? Is Gilbert my personal rubber room? As a wise yet inanimate object once said, “SIGNS POINT TO YES.”
If this actually is Gilbert, I must accept the building for its true self. Is it an efficient use of space, which is certainly larger on the inside than the outside? Of course. May there be some Physics Department-based Doctor Who-esque trickery which warps spacetime to create the physical impossibility? Certainly.
But that’s okay. It’s okay to not know everything about everything. It’s okay to turn a blind eye to blatantly ignoring and abusing the laws of the natural world. All this reporter can do is turn around and walk out of Gilbert, never to return.
Welcome, Class of 2027, to the beautiful River Campus! Welcome to the labyrinth that is Gilbert! Welcome to your new home.