To inaugurate a new crop of Features contributors, The Argus decided to send three first-time freshman writers on a lengthy and unrelenting assignment. We provided them little direction or guidance, other than the following email.
My Intrepid Friends (MIF),
For better or for worse, you have taken upon yourselves a colossal and arduous task. Find these places and write about them and about finding them. If you can’t find one of the places (pathetic), a place is impossible to access (find a way), or a place doesn’t exist (still your fault), you decide what to write. Go:
-Long Lane Farm
-The Fossil Museum in Exley
-Daniel Family Commons (You must EAT)
-Summit of Indian Hill (Bonus: The spot where Aslan was killed)
-Allbritton Balcony (3R)
-Roof of Judd
-An unusual place to study in the Olin Stacks
-The Labyrinth (if you dare)
-The Javanese Gamelan (you must play it)
-Michael Roth’s house
-The Meditation Room
-The trellised passageway between Russell House and the Center for the Humanities (The Birth Canal)
-Freeman Family Japanese Gardens
-Inside the Tomb
-The Tunnels (bonus: the Telephone Room, the Book Room, the tunnels under the 92 Theater, and/or the WestCo Tunnels)
-Bonus: a wilderness trail near U Lot.
-Extra Bonus: roof of Olin (if you get caught there, we didn’t send you)
A First Hand Account of the Expedition
We set out with considerable trepidation. We encountered some casualties along the way—including a busted camera, plenty of abandoned homework, and a ruined limb—but our valiant efforts paid off, sort of. We learned so much about our campus and ourselves. Above all, we learned how to be resourceful—because there are some doors your WesID just won’t open.
We left Fauver on Sunday at 4:20 p.m., armed for adventure. Our first place was actually the absence of a place: the empty field that used to house MoCon, a former dining hall on campus. We left with a few photos of nothing in particular and a vague and brooding sense of dissatisfaction.
We found ourselves next in the Indian Hill cemetery, where we found the site of Aslan’s execution, as our quest mandated. A moment of silence for Aslan the Lion.
Leaving behind our vista over the gentle, rolling hills of Middlesex County, we were infused with panache as we moved onward to the Japanese garden in the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies.
As we peered over the fence looking for a way in, the spontaneous death of our camera arrived in the form of an explosion. One of us attempted to snap a picture and with a sound like a gunshot, the Kodak was gone forever.
Next: the Birth Canal. It was pretty, though we found ourselves constantly swatting at bugs and wrinkling our noses at the smell of fermenting apples. It was a fairly picturesque spot in which to hang out, or judging by the abandoned bottle of Smirnoff Raspberry, in which to drink.
Our subsequent stop was the Art Library. People in there were studying art.
At this point, we were battered and weary, and a question hung thick in the air: what were we doing, and why had we consented to a quest that apparently had no point? After a good 20 seconds of contemplation, we decided to continue.
Never question the narrative conceit of a quest until after the quest has finished.
But first eat copious bounties of Usdan mac and cheese. Nothing like Usdan after an afternoon of danger.
Fueled by ice cream, we ventured back out to the Center for Fine Arts, where we happened upon the Labyrinth—a circular tiled pathway set in the ground. We challenge you to complete it without getting dizzy.
Next door, we found a building ominously named The Tomb. I won’t say we got inside, but I won’t say we didn’t, and if we did, this is what we saw: 1) that dude who you thought had transferred last semester; 2) a collection of black obsidian; 3) a sacrilegious rite.
From there, we walked around the corner to President Michael Roth’s house and awkwardly took a picture. Ding, dong, ditch.
In the subterranean Meditation Room, we loudly wondered where the best spot would be to take a picture. We failed to notice a man sitting in the corner, meditating in the lotus position. Sorry about that, dude.
Back out on the quad, we made our way to Judd Hall. Destination: Roof.
After climbing infinity stairs, we reached a door that seemed to be locked. But with some repeated physical persistence, we pushed it open and emerged into the open air. The view of campus at sunset stopped us in our tracks. Everything seemed so pristine, so far below us—Foss Hill didn’t even look like a hill.
After that experience, we were psyched to try and reach the roof of Olin Library. However, that proved to be more difficult and dangerous than we had anticipated. We rode a rickety elevator to the top floor of Olin and risked exposure to asbestos in the name of good reporting. But we did find a few intriguing nooks and crannies.
And so it was with heavy hearts that two of us ventured further to Allbritton, while one of us musketeers set out across the barren, storm-swept recesses of the north campus in search of the fabled Long Lane Farm. We have not seen him since, God bless his soul.
Pressing the mysterious “3R” button in the elevator brought us to a spacious room, where two pairs of twins cast us suspicious glances. We ignored them and headed straight for the balcony. The view was decent, although nothing beats looking down on Michael Roth from the roof of Olin.
In the depths of the subterranean World Music Hall, we found a dim, musty room filled with the echoes of musical history.
Once we figured out what exactly a Gamelan is, we proceeded to have the most epic jam session ever.
At this point, we decided we were done, although the sites we had missed, and which we would perhaps now never see, soured our sense of accomplishment.
Parting aphorism: if a door won’t open, push harder.