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The University Magazine

From fire drills to Freshman 15

One administrator tells (almost) all

Bob Finnerty '07 collects his orientation packet.

For the first time in nearly 25 years (gulp), I checked into a college dorm as part of Student Government's "Dorm Challenge" in January.

Let me introduce you to my roommates in Sol Heumann Hall, Room 7088:

  • Moises "Ozzy" Urratia, a first-year new media design and imaging major from Saugerties, N.Y.
  • Everett Carlisle, a first-year film production major from Amarillo, Texas.
  • Bill Destler, who graduated a few years ago and ascended to the RIT presidency.

So how did I spend my three days in the dorm? Try adjusting to a 20-foot by 15-foot room with four loft-style beds. I consider myself a night owl, but I was reminded that college students typically go to bed between 1 and 3 a.m. on weeknights. The good news is that iPods have replaced booming stereos! Too bad technology hasn't cured snoring.

Besides the lack of ZZZs, dorm life gave me a new appreciation for student life. It's really amazing to see the activity at night. It's like a buzzing city with hundreds of students walking the underground tunnels to events, clubs and other activities.

In terms of food, I found plenty of menu choices at Gracie's. The food was excellent, although the students swear it was because the administration was in the house. By the third day, I was starting to worry about the "freshmen 15"! My advice to the students: Grab some fruit to take back to your room.

I swear Student Government wanted the RIT administration to hoist up the white flag during the Challenge. But we never surrendered. But I have to admit I was close to throwing in the towel when the fire alarm went off at 5:20 a.m. This was an evacuation RIT style: piercing alarm, flashing strobe lights (to awaken the deaf community), and standing outside in 10-degree temperatures for 25 minutes. Along with President Destler, hundreds of students filed out of the eight-story co-ed building. We heard language that would make any sailor proud.

So what will be some of the outcomes of the Dorm Challenge? The administration will be working hard to improve such areas as overcrowding (making the lounges truly lounges again), wireless connection and bus schedules. Administrators agreed they would return next year. It would be nice to add the Dorm Challenge to the list of RIT traditions.

I learned so much about the people I work for - the students. The college experience is way more than what you learn in the classroom. It's about meeting diverse people from all over the world.

Sign me up for the next Challenge!

Bob Finnerty '07
RIT Chief Communications Officer

Web extra:
To read Finnerty's blog posts, visit