By Binston Swongo (Edited by A. Lipari)

A reader writes:

Dear Binston Swongo,

What dorm should I move into next year? I’m a first year, and I’m really worried about being stuck in the wrong place for the next year!

Dear first year, 

You’ve come to the right place. I’ve lived in practically every dorm on campus over my many years at Grinnell, and I’m pretty sure I can give you a good representation of what it’s like to live in each of them. 

James: I lived here my first year at Grinnell. A hall full of memories: my mother and father helping me set up my brand-new twin-XL bedding, turning a white box of a room into somewhere that felt like home. Tentative new friends blooming into what would become lifelong companions as the golden light of August turned to the first snows of October. A downside to living here was the way the loggia was locked at night to keep us from getting up to anything improper. But pro tip, there’s a garbage can under a drainpipe at the back of James Hall that will give you access to the second floor windows. I’d recommend this dorm to any peppy young coeds with decent arm strength. 6/10.

Main: I never lived here myself, but she did. I spent a lot of time there, during my coldest winter on campus. The walk from the academic center of campus to her remote domicile was long, brutal, and freezing, but I was warmed from within by the promise of seeing her face, of feeling her fiery touch. The room was small, but we could have made do in a shoebox, as long as it was our private sanctuary, as long as we could be close to each other. Even now, I can’t pass by that corner of campus without a poignant sting inside my chest. I recommend Main if you’ve got fire in your heart– but be careful, in case it ever goes out. 7/10.

Rawson: I think Digby is living there next year, and he really sucks. Don’t live in Rawson. 0/10.

Smith: It was here that I discovered my passion. It was midway through my second year, and I’d been having a bit of a sinking spell, if I’m being honest; my love life was in shambles, I’d failed another round of classes, my advisors kept saying things like “concerned about you” and “mental health leave” and “stop putting my paperweight in your mouth, I told you last week that it’s not edible.” One night I was lying in bed, counting water stains on the off-white ceiling, when my friend Wallace knocked on my door. He was in a bad state, even worse than I was, which was unexpected–Wallace always had his shit together. But that night he huddled in my desk chair and spilled his guts: his mother was sick, his tuition money was gone, and everyone had clapped at him when he spilled his tray down the Dhall stairs in broad daylight. So I put aside my woes, and I listened, and I advised him as best I could. And it worked! I mean, he never did end up finishing his degree, but I hear he’s now the second-most successful drug dealer in Iowa, and now I know that my calling is to advise others and help them become their best selves. So yeah, definitely recommend. 9/10.

Rose: My memories of my time here are hazy: flickering candles reflecting off vaulted ceilings. Circles of blood and rosemary on the floor. Sackcloth pulled over my eyes as a circle of shadowy shapes mumbled a low chant around my prone body. Something dark lurks under the dorm’s placid, hotel-like exterior. I mean, I won’t judge if you’re into that. But be careful. 4/10.

Loose: My buddy Julia lived here one year and one night while she was out me and the triplets snuck into her room and wrapped her shoes in tin foil and stapled the rug to the ceiling and turned all the chairs inside out and when she got back she thought she was having a mental breakdown and it was the funniest shit that’s ever happened to me. 10/10.

Gates: I can’t tell you what happened atop the Tower. I’m sorry. 5/10

Norris: Meh. 2/10.

Haines: The experience of living there vastly improved after I gambled away my sense of smell in a game of beer die with some sort of trickster spirit. 3/10.

Have a question for Binston? Submit it anonymously here, and we’ll see if they can get back to you! Accuracy not guaranteed. Results may vary. Binston Swongo is a real person.