We Shape Our Buildings: The dire condition of our dorms, and why we must not ignore it

By: Grace Koncsics

We shape our buildings, and afterward our buildings shape us,” said Winston Churchill. This quote is something I have found true and shocking not only during my time at Eastern University but during my life. The rooms we inhabit, the kitchens we cook in, the roofs we seek safety under and the halls we walk shape our personality, worldview, and lifestyle.

The physicality of the walls fashion us; not just those whom we share the walls with, but the plaster and brick and stucco of the walls themselves. We are bodily beings, material beings, and therefore the material we interact with affects us. The walls and roofs and ceilings of our dwellings not only affect our physical well-being but our emotional and spiritual well-being. My creativity thrives in a room filled with art, carvings and painted walls rather than in a lab-like classroom; I am happier in a house with good lighting and hardwood floors than one with no windows and an ancient shag rug. 

These truths have never been more obvious to me than in Eastern’s dormitories. Before I continue, let me be clear, this piece is not a rant against the athletic community, the provost, the RD’s or anything or anyone specific. Instead, it is an exploration into why renovation of dorms (aesthetically and practically), would lead to greater student moral, bodily, and mental health and demonstrate care for Eastern students’ wellbeing. 

 Over the past few years, I have lived in 3 dorms; Kea, Gough and Hainer. All came with both struggles and advantages and also offered new views into the tragic state of the dorms. In Kea the plumbing was atrocious; the toilets did not flush, the showers turned on only sporadically and the flooding was often colossal. In Gough, there was mold, showers that did not turn cold, windows that could not be opened (or shut) and several communities of well-established mice. In Hainer, I experienced black mold, faulty showers, flickering lights, an elevator past inspection and a hall with incredibly unpredictable heating. In each of these halls the paint was peeling, walls dented, carpets sticky and stained and bathrooms rusty and chipped. While I understand the walls painted are not necessary (although neither is friendship, art, sport or salt), the plumbing and heating certainly are. These are not lofty requests or disdainful observations; they are necessities promised by Eastern Housing without which the living situation becomes dangerous. 

 This is my story and I have heard others, others worse than mine. Water leaking from ceilings, a family of rats, bees living in the vents, etc. While this seems like the start of Cinderella, it is the discouraging and appalling state of the Eastern dorms. Before money and time are given to anything else, the dorms must be attended to. Tape and glue will work for a while but soon whole pipes must be replaced, new washers and driers bought, vents changed and mold chemically removed. This sad state of affairs cannot continue and if it does, it does so to the great detriment and general unhealth of the entire community. 

 “We shape our buildings, and afterward our buildings shape us,” So far, Eastern Students have been shaped by cold, dampness, mold and dents, we have been shaped into uncomfortable, discouraged and bewildered students. I hope and pray in the future the shaping will be that of robust health and content minds.  

Source: “Winston Churchill.” Spatialogie, https://www.spatialogie.net/category/influences/winston-churchill/.

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