Alumni recall, or choose to forget, Thurston years

Thirteen years ago, Adam Meixner and Melanie Slomon moved into GW’s most notorious freshman residence hall.

The 2003 graduates returned to Thurston Hall Saturday with hordes of nostalgia-happy alumni, only this time, the pair walked hand-in-hand as a married couple.

When asked about her favorite memories of Thurston, Slomon said sheepishly that she “can’t really remember.” She laughed, and her husband, Meixner, quipped back, “And that’s a good thing.”

Thurston Hall, the wonderland of freshman year parties and hook-ups for generations of GW students, welcomed back its past residents Saturday during Alumni Weekend – sparking tales of the good, the bad and the crazy from the 50 years GW has owned the building.

In the first-floor TV lounge, alumni imparted survival tips, each writing a piece of advice for this year’s Thurston residents.

Danielle Chipin Schwartz, Jamie Koff, Erica Bloomenthal, Rori Felt Levine, Elissa Diamond and Heather Friedman, all from the class of 1993, lived in Thurston their freshman year, transcending the floor barrier and becoming inseparable friends. The garrulous group of women had plenty of words of wisdom to share.

“Be careful what pictures you’re posting, because they’re gonna haunt you for a long time,” Bloomenthal cautioned, chuckling.

Even without social media, Thurston residents’ behavior has been well-documented. Since GW purchased the building in 1963, students staged a “love-in” to protest a midnight curfew for male students visiting the then all-female hall in 1968. Three years later, students protested the Vietnam War by hanging a picture of a penis outside the residence hall.

Alumni told current residents that bizarre stories continued into their eras.

“One of my roommates – during a fire drill – couldn’t find her clothes, and she grabbed the shower curtain and she came out downstairs with the shower curtain on,” Erin Mulvey, who graduated in 1993, recalled.

Several alumni were surprised by the renovations to the main lobby, newly painted walls and carpeted hallways. But nothing was as “mind-blowing” to them as the absence of the dining hall that was previously in the basement, tour guide and Thurston house staff member Chelsea Lenhart said.

While the annual tours allow alumni to reminisce on days past, they also foster conversation with current residents, an experience that bridges gaps between generations of students.

“I think one of the greatest things that alumni get to do is talk to current residents and students,” Lenhart said. “It’s a lot of fun to have alumni come into the room, talk to freshmen and just see that interaction.”

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