Although newcomers to Vassar College might find themselves intrigued by Jew- ett and its veneer of hotel decadence, believing that such a luxurious building can only house the most spacious of rooms, residents of this century-old dorm know the real tea. Not only are the doubles painfully ordinary—some even substandard—but sophomores who aren’t bless- ed with an elected position on House Team and who decided against becoming a student fellow risk finding themselves trapped in the infamous “coffin singles”: rectangular, comically limiting blocks of space in the tower in which one can embalm themself in sweat during the summer and mummify themselves in blankets during the winter. Knowing my luck in terms of lodgings, I didn’t jump for joy when I found out I had the last single available in Jewett, yet by no means did I expect a solitary confinement unit upon returning to Poughkeepsie on a 100-degree sum- mer afternoon. Shoving my carry-on dejectedly into my feeble excuse of a closet, I mumbled to myself: “At least they shoved my dresser and my desk under my bed so I could actually walk to it.
At least this whole situation is funny AF.” Those who have undergone the arduous process of room draw know that getting a good room, especially a single, is far from “easy peasy lemon squeezy.” In fact, it’s more like “stressful as heck, the person who agreed to be my roommate backed out at the last minute, and now I have to spend time worrying about get- ting a single with my shitty draw number and rooming with some rando instead of studying for finals, lemon, refreshing the Residence page every minute to see if the room I want is taken.” I had no say in whether or not I got the coffin I now have; it was the only one left after an hour of page-refreshing in the Deece, and without knowing what was awaiting me, I went through the necessary motions and now here I am. My floor is eerily quiet at night, my neighboring coffins silent like the interior of a mausoleum. “We’re all in this together” goes that song from “High School Musical,” but instead of rising musical stars, we’re merely a gaggle of lifeless and unfortunate sophomores. I should hit up Kenny Ortega and see if he could whip up a score or two with this sad cast.
In the summer, I visited Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, a historic prison whose solitary confinement system proved quite a scandal in the 20th century, and I swear some of the cells were even bigger than my single. During the first few days, I attempted to liven up my coffin with some summer memorabilia, plastering my walls with pictures I had taken, writings I had created and achievements in which I took pride, yet they end up just resembling dull jail decorations that might take on significance decades later as historic annals of a sad Vassar past, probably in the Loeb. For the moment, I’m still waiting to have my bed lofted in order to use the desk they had so thoughtfully shoved underneath it. Without my fan blowing hot air out of my room, I believe I would be like those twins in “Final Destination 3,” the girls who burned to death in tanning beds. When (or if) I get my bed lofted, I run the risk of having nightmares along those lines every night, marinating in my own sweat and tears. Maybe instead of shooting that movie “Shirley,” they should consider reviving the long-defunct “Final Destination” franchise, featuring only the Jewett coffin singles. I would love to be the Michael Stuhlbarg of that film!
The silver lining? My window does afford a beautiful view of Arlington. The quiet mausoleum atmosphere of my floor is actually conducive to sleeping at night, especially after a long day of drudgery. And how can one forget about the bathrooms, the pristine, spacious comfort stations unique to the tower, equipped with shower units that come with doors and not just curtains? I don’t think I’ve given Jewett enough credit; I’ve met the most wonderful, intelligent and devoted people there, and its interior really does resemble that of a hotel. Well, one is likely to think that until one walks into a room like mine and it suddenly becomes “The Shining.” I apologize for all the terrible movie references I’ve made through- out this article; after all, I am a media studies major. Some have even mistaken me for a drama major, which is understandable after having read this theatrical piece of writing…Yikes! Cracking up over my dramatic rendition of a predicament is the point of this article, but bear in mind that it might be your predicament some day, unseasoned Jewett dwellers! The Jewett coffins are far from myths; they’re realities poised to pounce on any unsuspecting rising sophomore!
Composed with love from my coffin, Nam.