Going dorm part 2: ‘Some really dreadful stuff’
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:04
Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series.
Dorm life isn’t all new for Ted Pease, one of 15 staff, faculty, visiting scholars and graduate students at Utah State University currently living on campus — and the only one to live in a freshman dorm.
As a freshman at the University of Washington, Pease lived in a high-rise dorm called Lander Hall. Later, as a Ph.D. student at Ohio University, he was a “dorm mother” for the freshman dorms.
Some of the students he lives among now weren’t even born when he was in Ohio. Some of their parents might not have been born when he was in Washington.
“The symmetry of doing it in 1986 and then again in 2012 is a little beyond ironic,” said Pease’s wife, Brenda Cooper, who took an early retirement last year and moved to the small town of Trinidad on California’s northern coast.
“That one was way worse than this one,” Pease said of his dorm experience in Ohio. “There was a kid upstairs, his name was Jordan. He had a basketball. I had to confiscate that basketball once a week. For some reason, bouncing a basketball was something important to do at two in the morning.”
These days, Pease said, the students who live above him in Davis Hall are either very quiet or very frightened of the “old guy” down below.
By comparison, Pease said, his current dorm life is a breeze.
“This place is like Pleasantville compared to every other college campus I’ve ever been on,” he said. “It’s safe and reasonably quiet and it’s not too out of control.”
When he was a “dorm mother” at Ohio University, there was much more partying.
“In theory it was a dry campus, but there was a lot of boozing,” he said. “There was a guy who fell out of a fourth story window during a party. There was some really dreadful stuff.”
He’ll never forget the young woman who gave birth in an OU dorm bathroom.
Like any other college campus, Utah State has its share of problems and parties, but Davis Hall area coordinator Shannon Jolley said USU’s campus — stacked heavily with teetotaling members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — has fewer alcohol incidences than other schools.
“I would say the vast majority would be roommate conflicts, just people learning how to live with other people and not always doing that maturely,” Jolley said.
The old guy downstairs
Pease’s apartment can be reached by an outside door, so he doesn’t have to go inside the main building. However, despite his efforts to slip in and out unnoticed, he’s caught the attention of many of the residents.
“My favorite was back in the fall when it was too hot — there’s no air conditioning, so I had to keep the window open,” Pease said. “I could hear everybody. I could hear them walking around and talking outside. This one young woman said, ‘Who’s that weird old guy?’”
One of Pease’s neighboring residents is a student named Chandler Kingsbury. At the beginning of the fall semester, Kingsbury and his friends came over one day and peered curiously into the open window.
“Hi Ted,” Kingsbury said. “Hey, this is kind of nice in here.”
Pease pulled back the embroidered Martha Stewart curtains he’d purchased from Kmart.
“Chandler, get out of here, you perv,” he said.
Paige Myers, another Davis Hall resident, said many of the students interact with Pease in person as well as on the Davis Hall Facebook page.
“He’s always really nice and he talks to us,” she laughed. “But it’s more like ‘Oh, hey Ted, sorry about the fire alarm going off.’”
The students don’t seem to mind that a professor is living as their next-door neighbor. They even try to be sensitive to quiet-hour regulations when they’re around his door, though it is sometimes hard to muffle their Call of Duty Xbox tournaments.
“For the past three-plus hours, what sounds like a zombie or exploding sense of sound warfare game party has been on the big screen TV that backs up to my living room,” Pease wrote on the dorm’s Facebook page a few weeks back when he was under the weather. “Can’t freshman zombies die a little quieter?”
He signed it, “The Dorm Mother,” which has become Pease’s name among Davis Hall dwellers.
Davis Hall’s resident assistant, Jordan Ames, quickly replied with an apology — and an offer to put an end to their game.
Pease wrote back “it ain’t bedtime… even for an old fart,” and insisted he just wanted to figure out what game they were playing. “It sounds like exploding-racecar-zombie-warfare-my-little-pony-extravaganza,” he wrote.