By Elke Calhoun

NORRIS—The academic year begins anew, bringing an onslaught of distraught emails from ResLife begging students to turn off the stoves in dorm kitchens, lest our Resident Halls dissolve into flames. They are speaking almost directly to the freshman occupants of the Ikea Showroom Dorm, unofficially known as Norris. 

Upon hearing of the misuse of accommodations in the freshly renovated Norris, many upper-classmen took to Yik-Yak in righteous irritation. 

“Why should only the freshman get fancy-schmancy invisible stovetops?” demanded one anonymous Yakker. “They aren’t even house-broken yet!”

If this incognito bellyacher had been up to date on Grinnellian lore, they would be aware Norris was originally open to residents of all years.  Only in recent years has Norris been relegated to the freshmen. According to very reputable and credible sources, ResLife implemented this shift to address the situation in Norris Pit. The Pit had devolved into a depraved sex den where residents would openly engage in advanced, shockingly sophisticated group sexual activities—colloquially known as Norgies. In a stroke of tactical genius, the administration kicked out all of the immoral sex fiends to consecrate a space of abstinence for the innocent, angel-baby freshmen we know today. 

However, the origin place of Norgies hasn’t always been the Swedish minimalist paradise that freshmen know it for today. In fact, many seasoned veterans of Norris’s past have described the previous living environment as “a fight for survival” or “basically the Hunger Games.” 

We spoke extensively to Hava Lick ‘25, one of the final tributes to endure the Norris Arena before renovations. Lick has opened up about the trials endured daily in her year-long struggle for survival.  

“To make it in Norris, you had to be a fighter,” she tells us, staring blankly into our souls. “Just to get to your room, every step was a battle.”

Every floor contained a new horror, Lick informs us. The stairways were so steep and claustrophobic that many have compared it to cave spelunking. Residents would go so far as to purchase crampons to affix to the bottom of their shoes to make the ascent during the slippery season. 

Even more deadly were the fumes emitted from the all-boy’s third floor.  Brave FM workers were legally required to clean the bathrooms in gas masks after 2017, when the FDA decreed the place an “official biohazard.” While mightily more hygienic, the all-women’s fourth floor was unfortunately no safer. It earned the nickname “Triangle Shirtwaist Factory” from concerns surrounding the inaccessible escape routes for this group of isolated young women. The few lionhearted residents who survived the Pit had their own horror stories: glass dust, black mold, flash floods, etc. 

 “We got really good at holding our breath,” said one basement dweller. “By the end of the year, I was only breathing every few weeks.”

We have barely touched on the unspeakable conditions these brave freshmen of old endured. For decades, Norris echoed with whispers of fire alarm psychological torture, carnivorous rats, and other terrors that I dare not mention here. Luckily for freshmen today, the administration agreed to renovations in the face of The Uprisings, and these stories of trauma are fading to the past.