August 31, 200010:52 p.m.State Plaza Hotel
Our team of five set out to discovered if the freshmen living in the State Plaza are putting their swanky setup to proper use. The team comprised a writer (me), a photographer and three extra intruders who could also be used as bait should any snags arise in the process.
Mission 1: Get in the building
We made it to the hotel safely, after a few detours to various parties around campus, and proceeded to the front door. Stopped short by a locked door and no answer to the buzzer, we moved quietly to the rear entrance of the building – this could get sticky.
Spotting an unmanned front desk, we sent one of our bait-men, Kevin, inside to scope the situation. Untrained in covert operations, Kevin stood there confused, but it gave the rest of our team the decoy we needed to sneak over to the elevators. Kevin Gully caught on and we were in.
Mission 2: Find the freshmen
After another detour to the building’s sunroof for a breath of fresh air and a scenic overlook, we hit the floors. Two buildings to the hotel (north and south) eight floors each and 24 freshmen scattered about – the odds of finding them were against us.
We got an early tip that the freshmen were camped at the top floor of the North building, so we proceeded to it. We were on the look-out for signs of freshman activity when our team caught another break as a young lady walked by carrying a laundry basket. Who does laundry in a hotel? Special agent Bradley Stein pointed out. So we pounced, and found what we were looking for. The captured freshman cooperated with our team and took us to the others.
Mission 3: Inspect the scene
Initial analysis showed just what we expected: the freshmen were living large. Queen-size beds, a powder room, kitchens bigger than entire Mitchell rooms and maid service. But did they party?
Four of us headed to room 827, where we heard the insanity lived – Special Agent Bushy had already made his way to the room and begun using his flirting skills to get an initial read. The four of us were greeted by a group of freshmen and quizzed repeatedly on our names and business. Worried that more questions could throw off the mission, I quickly played dumb and scooted inside.
Inside sat a group of about 10, all normal-looking enough, but what lurked underneath would soon shock even the most veteran of our team.
Mission 4: Get the scoop
The freshmen were gathered on two beds laughing and talking with techno music in the background. A normal-enough scene for freshman quarters, but this was Thursday night, where was the insanity? We sent Kevin, a decoy-man, around to inspect the nooks and crannies and come up with the dirt. He came up empty-handed, and I concluded getting a story out of this bunch would take more than determination – it would take a miracle.
Obviously there were no wild, off-the-chain (as freshman lingo goes) parties scheduled for the night, so I dug deeper.
I was informed earlier that the freshmen would be moving out the next day, back on campus in freshman residence halls. Perhaps the day could be salvaged with some whining about future living conditions.
Angela Venturiello seemed to have received the shaft of the group. She would be leaving her swanky pad in the State Plaza, her daily maid service complete with mints on the pillow and her queen-size bed for Lafayette Hall. Surely Angela would make some inflammatory statements about this. But our plan to dig some dirt came up short again, as a source informed us that the hall selection was not handed to her, but requested by Angela herself. We would have to dig deeper.
There was dissention in the ranks when the topic of smoking came up. Two freshmen were non-smokers assigned to a smoking room, and another smoker was stuck in a non-smoking room. Surely this would not please them. I had found my scoop – or so I thought.
The non-smokers quickly pointed out the smoking issue was not a big deal, and they liked their roommates despite their preferences for black lungs and early deaths. The smoker said he could accept his roommates’ affinity for clean air. Still no scoop.
Our team was wearing down. An hour had passed since our mission began and we had no sizzle. We didn’t even have a fizz. The next step, to relocate.
Mission 5: Create a story
The mission was on the verge on being aborted. We retreated to another room with fewer people and hoped something, anything, would materialize.
Special agent Stein was already there. That’s when my carefully-trained eye caught the scandal that would save the piece – the room’s ceiling was leaking. If these were typical freshmen, the simple mention of this inconvenience would set off floods of whining and complaining. One freshman would complain that she pays $35,000 to go here and deserves better plumbing, another would yell, What about my expensive stuff! and the day would be saved.
But it was not to be. The freshmen girls simply shrugged-off the leak and resumed conversation about mints left on their pillow and nicely tucked sheets that awaited them daily.
The mission has failed. There were no wild times, no whiney freshmen and no scurrilous scandals. Just a group of nice students happy they met each other and ready to set out for a mission of their own: adjusting to true dorm life.