i’ve been in a funny little writing rut, far away from the keyboard and tightly wound up in my thoughts. this blog overwhelmed me because i was scared to do it right. but, i think it’s important to share with the world, and people sent in truly wonderful digital artifacts, so i eventually dusted off my blog draft document and got to it. i hope you enjoy these glimmers of east campus. <3
five months ago, i poorly planned packing my bags, begrudgingly all-nightered to get all my items stored away, and eventually moved out of East Campus (ec). it was not only the dorm i tagged as “home” on Google Maps, but also a place that truly felt like one. i always knew i wanted to live here, mostly attributed to my years of reading the blogs. the physical building was chaotically decorated, the people appeared vibrantly open-minded, and the vibes felt so sweet. i hadn’t quite seen anything like it at MIT, let alone in my life at all.
i do think people find their sense of “home” in many different ways, whether that be captured by the people who they love being around, scenery that brings them peace, objects that capture a memory. one of the greater fears of college, and i guess life as a whole, is finding forms of it. i was lucky enough to find this at my dorm.
dorm thoughts + room tour + panic packing
i had a lot of thoughts about my time at this dorm bottled up in me and didn’t find written words to be the best medium to get them out, so i tried turning on my phone camera and filmed away. for context, it was late and i sound a touch delirious, but i think it’s fine.
ninety-nine years ago, ec welcomed its first ever residents. it’s the oldest undergraduate dorm still standing, and it shows: (a) the culture is rich with traditions, stories, and artifacts, and (b) the building is in dire need of repair. i’ll, of course, miss it as it undergoes renovations for the next 2 years, but i’m also curiously excited. i wonder how ec culture will be afterwards, what new life it’ll take on. i could go on and on and on, but i won’t. i think the piece of written media that has best described ec culture as a whole is </span><a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/east-campus-a-home/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="font-weight: 400">Danny’s blog</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">. if you want a huge collection of stories, </span><a href="https://ec.mit.edu/culture/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="font-weight: 400">this website</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> is also good. but, at the very least, i offer you these remnants that i had found. i looked through my own archives and emailed out to all ec residents for contributions. in this effort to grasp onto whatever bits of ec i could find, i collected a hodge podge of things that capture little bits of this place i still call home.
one: party poem
basically every weekend, a floor of ec hosted a party. my floor hosted the final one before renovations. an acrostic poem (the first letter of every line spells out vertical words) was sent out as the party invite, paying homage to every ec floor (of which there are ten).
They claim that
It’s the end of East
Campus, that it’s over.
Knowing renovations are near certainly
Makes our last weeks here bittersweet,
As we all must find
New homes in the fall.
1 thing that’s for sure is that the original
East Campus, the building, will be gone.
People, though, will remain. We
Understand that the culture,
The community, cannot be so easily
But what about
Everything we feel like we’re leaving behind?
Asbestos and cockroaches can go, but
So many parts of this dorm are
Things we wish we could keep with us forever.
For one, the Courtyard:
Laughter and chatter audible
Over the thump of music, rope swings
Rope darts whirling around,
Pungent burger smoke in every
Inhale near grillz.
Talbot, too, will be missed —
Every FAC, Pinkies, and other event
That took place in our common space —
And even those cook-for-yourself-induced,
Zany nights (and some early mornings) spent
Outside of our beds because
Of fire alarms at ungodly hours.
4 what it’s worth, we’ve called EC our home,
1 in which, within all our ten halls,
We’ve made so many memories.
Such fun we’ve had together — and
Let’s have even more during renovations!
Undergrad life on the West Side can be bland; let’s
Give things a little spice. Don’t you
Feel like the rest of MIT could use some
East Side energy —
Some dyed hair, more welcoming communities, and
The occasional infusion of chaos?
5 floors × two parallels = hundreds of East Campers.
Without the building, we’ll still always have each other to call home.
Forget your sadness, at least for one night:
One last time before
Renovations, before we start a new chapter of EC
Elsewhere than here but equally full of adventures.
You won’t want to miss it.
credit: Teresa G. ‘23
two: party visuals
in addition to the aforementioned acrostic poem, there were also visual accompaniments to the party. below are two artifacts from that evening.
credit: Eunice Z. ‘26
credit: Josephine R. ‘24, Fiona D. ‘26
three: word bubble
i polled ec residents for their top “3 words to describe ec.” this is what they said.
in the aforementioned poll, i also added a “feelzbox,” which basically means “write whatever you want to get your feelings out.” these were my three favorite submissions.
“EC isn’t a place; it’s a people. The weird, the creative, the counter-culture – as long as these sorts of people are around, there will always be an EC.”
“It wasn’t til I was crying in the club during the last EC Party that I realize how much this place means to me.”
“East Campus set me free.”
five: origin of the logo
an email chain was shared in the ec community that detailed the origin of our beloved logo. i asked one of the creators if i could include it in this blog, to which he responded “i don’t remember writing anything incriminating there, so feel free.” here’s the abridged story.
the origin of the ‘burning (stick)man’ was…around 2003
…and was originally redrawn from some osha logo by sheila l. ’05.
sometime later i asked sheila if she’d give me the illustrator file
(which, if you’re curious, was actually redrawn and not lifted
directly explaining why our stickman has ‘a visible butt’)
so that i could put it everywhere.
…the burning man was both simple enough
and literally iconic enough that it seemed like a good idea.
so the fall of 2004 i contacted rocket science screen printing
…and had a bunch of ultraheavyweight hoodies made
…i sort of had no expectation that the logo would survive or anything,
but when star showed up on the globe [Boston Globe]
i was tickled to know that the burning man was still alive
and that other people were making cool stuff with it
…I don’t really take credit for anything other than
whoring out the logo on various products, but if you’re wondering who
‘made the magic happen’ it was sheila and i just sorta got the ball
rolling on the “burning man on everything everywhere” thing.
credit: Marcos O. ‘05
six: timelapse of our courtyard
an ec resident took a photo of our courtyard (almost) every day during november of 2022. this is where we dyed many heads of hair, suspended ziplines and rope games from the trees, cooked a variety of things on the grills, and much more:
credit: Tyra E. ‘26
seven: poetry from a resident
some loving, sentimental words
poem A: Away
Talc and asbestos accumulate, in the dust under the radiator, between floors, until the day of a rite. In the middle of marble, a cube of outdoors remains, catching thunder. The Charles will tsunami itself against these walls, someday. You come, trundling down main street, holding
lotto tickets. You are young, and new to freedom. Every time the olderandstranger ones leap,
of course you leap. You look at your new world, a smear of colors, and you let yourself run amuck, you drag your fingers thru viscous air. Sure, undersides of things are scary, but it can’t spoil the kindness of your big, bright friends. Your true house is warm and filthy. It is in no way optimal. It is in no way functional, and sometimes it is hard to function. You remember being needy, touch-starved, bored. You’re so glad that you found this hell, that this rogue & glowing hell found you. Your true house is full of garbled noise, the place you forgot all hundred digits of pi. The warmth and necessity of this place is indescribable- becoming a human isn’t part of the data the grownups gather. They know neither the sadness and danger of isolation nor the elation of belonging, in ridiculousness and degeneracy, until time do you part.
poem B: Travelling Zoo: 4/10/19 (all the words/phrases are taken & cut-up from tetazoo quoteboard)
a country is not safe. a husband is not safe. 10 miles, west, texas-y, I
don’t do anything. In the dark, I am a child, I don’t have a time machine
and it isn’t likely I’ll figure it out.
I look normal. I just want to decapitate vegetables.
In that corner, out of windows, I want to live in a village. I want that now,
Driving in rural Ohio, in Wyoming, in Moldova, I need that now, I need it. Got shocked by an electric fence,
I need a forest fire, I need a trashfire.
Did you hear that? I need a volunteer fire department. I need a new dimension. I need non-cartesian coordinates. I need 40 gay communists in a warehouse. I need
Your body. I need the auditory equivalent of a lightbulb. And you can quote me on that.
Wait, just wait.
I feel like an opossum playing dead.
Wait, just wait.
I live here.
I live here!
On the ceiling, in the fire, roof-and-tunnel, tree-climbing, tonight!
I live here,
wearing clothing, not wearing clothing, a tall boy, a lesbian, an explorer, a ghost telling a joke. I am a capacitor.
I live here, in glounge, at the loading docks.
Here is not just a word. Here is so illegal. Here is enough. Here is a get-happy quick scheme. Here is interestingly colored smoke. Here is high on catnip. Here is an absolute nightmare.
I’m friends with four cats in a trenchcoat. I’m friends with the ghost of an IKEA instruction manual. My friends make me pancakes. My friends go to sevlev. My friends go to locksport. My friends are so old now. Why are we so young and so loud? Good sounds. Hisses of happiness.
I like the sound of people screaming. In Braintree, in Ashmont. Why am I so belligerent? Why am I safe? Why am I fine? Why am I joyous?
Entropy is the enemy of the narrative.
I would love to be immortal, but unfortunately I haven’t worked that out yet.
Regarding your life, your home: it’s an experience, it has a dimmer switch, it ends in a sleep-deprived corpse party, a dollop of midnight,
Then time says
I’m coming in and shutting your window.
All that bloodflow, all that life, it wobbles,
I feel like a Long Lost Child.
Where are you all? What’s the fastest route home?
eight: a video of every floor
during my final evening in ec, i took a walk through every floor before the building officially went offline.
i figuratively banged my head silly learning how to use Adobe Premiere Pro for HOURS but the job has finally gotten done
for context, this was filmed during moving week, so it looks much messier and emptier than usual.
Credit (music): Reece Y. ’25
perhaps if I painted with light brushstrokes, you can see the painting of ec that I see.
on any given night, I could stumble on a pocket of fun while winding the halls: people sprawled out around a rickety table playing endless games of nertz, a group about to make a late night sevlev run, others mulling about the corridors in search of a connection. around the clock, 24/7, there’s always something happening—the dorm that never quite sleeps.
i think about the daredevil, unruly spirit of the people here. we wrestle in mystery substances, rappel and climb about caves, taste spicy peppers, spin fire, and ignite Tesla coils. we have communal courtyard screams whenever we feel the urge. we calculate just enough to know we won’t die but dare enough to try.
most, if not all, floors had a fft (free food table) an fst (free stuff table), where people kindly placed things they found or made up for grabs. I remember one guy carried a big steel pot and walked through every floor of ec asking anyone if they wanted to contribute an ingredient to the communal soup. some people even joined him along the journey as he traversed his route. the kitchen was always bustling: someone cooking up a storm and happy to share with the world.
we recognize that our ideas, at times, can be bad, and we celebrate it with our annual Bad Ideas Weekend, where the dorm sponsors people to host events that seem like a bad idea.
there is creativity seeping out at every corner. questionably-built lofts can be easily found in peoples’ rooms. murals splashed across the walls. mounts have been drilled into walls and ceilings by residents to suspend hammocks, swings, and other things. music flooded the halls, from both lounge speakers blasting collaborative playlists to people practicing playing instruments in their rooms. one couldn’t help but be inspired.
you could feel a bit of the heart that beats for east campus
past residents saw a bit of themselves in this
and future residents embrace what has been
au revoir, East Campus.
- i think the piece of written media that has best described ec culture as a whole is Danny’s blog. if you want a huge collection of stories, this website is also good. back to text ↑