Vampires, squirrels, floods, oh my

Kelly Mills

The tales of living in the residence halls at Kent State

Mike Kurinsky, junior conservation major, and Andrew Thames, sophomore exploratory major, have a stop sign and fish tank in their dorm in McDowell Hall.

Credit: Andrew popik

Many roommate horror stories involve drunken nights, loud music or annoying alarm clocks. For one Kent State student, it seemed drinking alcohol wasn’t his new roommate’s problem.

When he arrived on campus to move in, he found a coffin on his roommate’s bed. Robin Gagnow, associate director of Residence Services, said the roommate claimed to be a vampire and slept each night in the homemade wooden coffin, which rested on top of the bed.

“I got this call from an upset mom who says, ‘You have to get my son out of this room,’” he said. “I asked her if there was a roommate conflict, and she said they hadn’t even met his roommate yet.”

Working in the residence halls sometimes can be more interesting than just checking in packages and signing out temporary room keys. Every now and then area desk workers, residence hall directors and resident assistants must deal with out-of-the-ordinary situations.

Gagnow said although there are a lot of incidents others may find extraordinary, he has seen his share of unusual cases. The mother calling to complain about a coffin in her son’s room was one of the most memorable incidents he has had to deal with during his time with Residence Services.

John Flavelle, Beall Hall residence assistant, has been working for Residence Services for six years. He said he has seen one disgusting practical joke turn into a habit.

“In the Tri-Towers area, there’s been a lot of people defecating,” he said. “People just leave something for everyone else to wake up to.”

Flavelle said defecation has been one of the most frequent disturbances in Tri-Towers. A resident will find feces in the hallway and call the staff to take care of the matter in most cases. Nobody has been caught for the series of incidents yet.

Flavelle said while people not using the restrooms may be one end of the spectrum, another major problem has been restroom abuse.

He said people often use the communal restrooms in Tri-Towers to stage pranks such as ripping out toilets or stuffing paper towels into sinks, both of which cause flooding in the halls.

Last year, a water pipe was broken in a student’s room on the sixth floor of McDowell Hall, Flavelle said. Because the break was not caught in time, the water flooded the room and ran down to all five floors below it.

When he worked as a resident assistant in Terrace Hall, he had a report of a man who gained access to the building by being friendly to a resident, then entered the women’s shower room and opened curtains.

People aren’t the only intruders in the residence halls. One of Flavelle’s most recent memories didn’t involve residents at all. He said resident assistants found a surprise in Allyn Hall when they were taking inventory on furniture.

“Over the summer a squirrel ate a hole through the screen and squeezed through a slightly open window,” Flavelle said. “It ate a hole through the backside of the mattress, and the squirrel was living in it.”

When the bed was moved, the squirrel jumped out of the bed, much to the surprise of the resident assistants. Flavelle said squirrels are the most common animal intruders. Bats, bees and deer have also been known to enter the residence halls. Of all these, deer cause the most damage to rooms.

In late October, a buck shattered a first-floor window in Olson Hall, causing damage to the room and panic among residents. The deer had to be shot by police. Later in the semester, another deer jumped through a window in Terrace Hall, but it immediately freed itself.

In some cases, residence hall staff members are asked to keep their eyes on incidents outside their halls.

“Over the summer, there was a naked jogger on campus,” Flavelle said. “He was just running around without his clothes on.”

The streaker was also seen sunbathing by Tri-Towers one afternoon, and several motorists called the police. A faculty member also found him drinking coffee in a staff lounge of an academic building on Front Campus. The incidents continued for a few weeks, but nobody was ever caught, Flavelle said.

Sometimes, students take control of their own issues.

“The strangest thing was when a student was being attacked,” said Terry Garlesky, clerical coordinator for the Tri-Towers Area Desk. “She dragged him back to the desk and called the police. I really don’t know what it was about.”

Garlesky said the woman held her attacker at the desk by force until the police arrived.

Anytime an incident is reported in the residence halls, staff members must fill out an incident report. In more severe cases, such as intrusion or vandalism, police are called in to deal with the situation as well.

“Assuming we don’t find the person, we do file a police report,” he said. “If we do find the person, we usually have police involvement.”

In such cases, both the police and residence services file police reports in order to keep everyone alerted to the problem. Often, when police are involved in an incident, the violator will also go to Judicial Affairs.

Flavelle said he has seen so many strange incidents around the residence halls that he doesn’t even notice.

“I’ve been here so long,” Flavelle said. “A lot of things that sound weird aren’t weird to me anymore. I still wonder what people were thinking sometimes.”

Contact proofreader Kelly Mills at [email protected].