Reflections on living in Leebrick Hall

Karl Hopkins-Lutz

It wasn’t easy when I first came to Kent exactly two years ago this semester — I didn’t know a soul or how to get things done around here. I didn’t even have a major. I wasn’t sure quite how to adjust to such a large school, but I quickly found that the freedoms allowed to me now that I wasn’t a freshman were so much greater than any other time in my earlier life.

I moved into Leebrick Hall after a couple of weeks in Johnson, and I don’t think anyone who ever lived there can blame me. The place was so run down that only one word ever came to mind for myself and anyone else: ghetto.

Leebrick was the exact opposite of Johnson: no roommates, very well maintained (minus the bathrooms), cozy-sized rooms, heat in the winter, but there was another difference: isolation. I lived up on the top floor, too, so it was like being in a cell in some tower. I used to love the cafeteria on the second floor, good food, always with a different vegetarian option each day — spinach with artichoke tortellini was a favorite even if I did like meat, and the sandwich station was a favorite stop.

I would try and get to know my neighbors and pay them visits from time to time, not really knowing when they’d be in. But the people who were friendly enough were smart enough to never be in their rooms, because living alone gets boring quickly.

It quickly became a question of curing not only the boredom, but the loneliness.

I tried seeking employment, seeking out student organizations, campus events, but I was always alone whenever I went somewhere. It was a very sad state to want friends and people to hang out with. But there were people sadder still, people who never left their rooms, who just wanted to be left alone. I started to be like them for a while; it was scary. I started to learn about them, these introverts, these agoraphobes, these misanthropes, these “shut-ins.” I realized that it was a symptom of the community, and that if I wanted to fight becoming one, I would have to avoid being in my room for things other than sleeping, changing clothes and such.

I found out after finally moving out of Leebrick that there were people even worse than me. “My name is (insert name here) and all I want to do is play video games.” Video game systems are one of the true temptations away from functioning socially in the real world. One person I met drew — in a little notebook — all of the characters they had created, so they could control their world and never have to be let down by having to get to know people over time.

The sad truth is that for most of your Leebrick residents who are shut-ins, and the thousands of other students like them across the country, the motivation for getting away from that sad and lonely lifestyle has to come from within, and they have to acknowledge that they deserve to be among the rest of the world and that the people of the world deserve someone like them.

Karl Hopkins-Lutz is a fourth-year pre-Journalism and Mass Communication major and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].