The entrance to Ivory Tower buzzed on Saturday evening as students made their way in and out of GW’s newest residence hall.
They shuffled through the front lobby carrying bags of groceries and 24-packs of beer. A UPD officer sat in the back of the lobby with a direct view of the door and three community hosts sat behind a desk periodically calling out, “Can you swipe your card?”
Outside was a similar scene. The main doors on 23rd Street were crowded from pizza deliveries, quick conversations and people constantly asking, “Hey man, can you sign me in?”
At first glance, upperclassman-only Ivory Tower seemed like the graduated sister dorm of freshman-only Thurston Hall. But an in-depth look at these sibling rivalries suggests students and University officials have mixed feelings on student life at Ivory Tower.
How do they compare?
Thurston Hall has historical roots in the Foggy Bottom community. Forever memorialized several years ago as the second-most sexually active dorm in America, Thurston has an established and well-respected reputation among promiscuous men and women alike.
With over 1,000 eager freshmen packed into Thurston Hall, this massive residence hall is legendary for its mammoth size, parties and possibilities.
Ivory Tower, on the other hand, has yet to build such a reputation. The much-anticipated arrival of the new dorm had students scrambling during housing selection last spring. Many students had listed Ivory Tower as their first choice, predicting that it would be the new Thurston for upperclassmen.
“That’s our goal. We have the experience and the drive to make it happen,” junior Adam Conner said. “There is potential in a dorm with so many upperclassmen.”
However, residents of Ivory Tower had mixed feelings about student life in the presumed upperclassman playground.
“I haven’t really partied in the dorm,” senior Myriah Jaworski said. “You haven’t needed to because we’re over 21, but it’s the fact that you can.” Even with few regulations on alcohol, students indicated their experience at Ivory Tower has been calm.
“It’s surprisingly quiet,” senior Vanessa Ray said. “There is less socialization in Ivory Tower than in Thurston.”
“It’s quieter than Thurston,” said senior resident Dan Frank, who lived in Thurston his freshman year. “The neighborliness is not there. By senior year people are in their cliques.”
Other students also said they have noticed the lack of floor unity and the quietness of the dorm is actually conducive to academics.
“You don’t know anyone on your floor,” said senior Caylynn McMaster, also a former Thurston resident. “People actually do use the study lounge.”
The University has already imposed stricter rules in Ivory Tower. University Police Chief Dolores Stafford noticed an immediate spike in disobedience in the new dorm.
“In the first month of school, the number of incidents and violations of law and policy have exceeded our expectations in terms of behavior that is typical for upperclassmen,” Stafford wrote in an e-mail. According to the UPD crime log, there have been four documented cases of destruction at Ivory Tower. Two of these cases remain open. “There were 27 incidents involving a violation of law or GW policy,” Stafford said.
The need for disciplinary action was unexpectedly high, and it resulted in a visible increase in security at Ivory Tower. A UPD officer is now stationed in the lobby every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. “to assist the community host with traffic control,” Stafford said.
A UPD officer on duty in Ivory Tower at last week said that “when the vandalism took place, people (weren’t) respecting the (Community Hosts), so we started here last week.”
The community hosts said they have an important role in maintaining the security as well.
“People think we’re the bad guy, but we’re just working to make sure that people’s stuff is safe,” said one CF while signing a student into the building. As another student juggled several bags of groceries, the CH asked him to swipe his GWorld Card. He frowned and looked at her, “It’s just not going to happen,” the student said.
The future of Ivory Tower remains uncertain. Student life in Ivory Tower is stuck between University expectations for mature behavior and student expectations for social mayhem.
“We hope that as the year progresses, that the level of activity will normalize and the building will be operate in the manner that we have come to expect from upperclassmen,” Stafford said.