In Defense of JB (#rushJB)


I was working on a group project the other day, and in the classic tradition of group projects, we were making the kind of small talk that people in the same class who have never interacted before make. Naturally, since hometowns and class years had already been exhausted, the innocuous subject of residency arose, and I offhandedly mentioned that I live in JB. My groupmate’s response? “You live in JB? Do you hate yourself?”

Rather than answering her literally and explaining that I have a very healthy ego (too healthy, certain misguided individuals have even said), I gave the brief explanation about how I wanted a suite–a clarification that I’ve gotten good at saying every time it stuns someone that I dare claim affiliation with the one and only John Bertram. You see, my classmate’s question was the astonished response I’ve grown accustomed to whenever I reveal where I live–a response akin to as if I’ve disclosed I make crystal meth à la Walter White. But really, is it that preposterous that my friends and I chose to live where we live? There are plenty of things far more anguishing going on here at Bates College (hello, the closure of esteemed watering hole La Cage?!).

I have a sneaking suspicion that my classmates’ consternation would not be such the case, in the immortal words of Beyonce, “If I were a boy.” Particularly a baseball or football-playing boy. But I am not. My suitemates and I are three women (!) who run cross country and track, and we have dared to tread into the hallowed halls of John Bertram Hall. When we decided to make such a decision about a year ago, we knew about JB’s typically predominately male population and proceeded regardless, prioritizing having our own common room over JB’s notoriety. And while we knew that boys often gravitated towards JB more often than girls did, we weren’t too worried. As it turns out, our floor is entirely male except for our lovely suite, and we’re having a ball.

Sure, when we moved in, there was the learning curve of male bathroom etiquette and the fact that certain individuals assumed we were ~visitors~ rather than residents at first, but we’re not complaining. We have our own SPACE! There’s nothing quite like coming home to your own place and being able to collapse on the couch…then get up, open a door, and go into your own room. There’s also the perk of having another room for entertaining visitors–let your roommate sleep in their room while you maximize the potential of your common room’s couch. Not to get too philosophical, but this is utilitarianism at its finest: talk about maximizing happiness!

Channeling my inner real estate agent, let me remind you of that age-old adage: location, location, location. If you spend your life schlepping from Merrill to Commons to PGill and back, as I do, it’s gorgeously convenient for quickly swinging by in those moments when you forget something (a book, a folder, your dignity, etc.).

So as housing selection dawns upon us, I issue an invitation to rising sophomores deterred by its masculine reputation to give old JB a chance. You’ll have space, you’ll have a great location, and your subordinate housing selection slot probably can’t get you those things in Smith or Village. JB, on the other hand, could become your new haven. Don’t be daunted by JB’s infamy – embrace its potential as a home for you, and embrace your potential to transform its reputation. Break the catch-22 of JB’s male-dominated reputation and its existence as a literally male-dominated dorm…#rushJB for the sisterhood of a lifetime.