McCrady Hall in sunnier weather. Photo courtesy of sewanee.edu.
By Joseph Marascuillo
McCrady Hall has never been the most luxurious place to live on campus. The fluorescent lights and drab interiors resemble a prison or a psychiatric ward much more than they resemble a liveable space. McCrady’s less-than-stellar demeanor perfectly embodies the feel of sophomore year, where everything just feels a little less special.
I still remember coming to school early my sophomore year to start football camp, only to find that the halls of my new residence hall were not swept yet. The floors were strewn with garbage, the dorm room itself had roaches, and my parents were livid. My mother went out to buy various precautions against the disrepair of McCrady hall, such as paper drawer liners and copious amounts of air freshener.
By the time both of my parents had to leave and return to New York, we were all still unsure that the dorm would be brought up to the standards of all the other dorms on campus.
It comes as no surprise then to hear that the residence hall I most commonly associate with disrepair fell into disrepair. According to McCrady resident Bonny Smith (C’19), the flooding started on March 14, the first day of spring break. Starting at around 9:30 p.m., the ceiling of McCrady residence hall had sprung a leak that threatened to flood the entire building. Water began to flood the halls of the second floor, quickly flowing down the steps to the first and basement floors.
Students who had stayed on campus for spring break were quickly evacuated by an area coordinator, who additionally did not allow students to re-enter the building for their own safety. Students were then told to find somewhere else to stay while the building was to be repaired, with alternative rooms being offered to students who had no place to go. Residents of McCrady hall were unable to return for a full day, by which time the water had been cleared and the roof had been repaired.
Bonny Smith had been staying on campus for spring break with the rest of the Sewanee women’s lacrosse team. Forced to evacuate along with the rest of the dorm when the flooding began, she stayed with a friend until the dorm was repaired. During the repairs, students were only allowed to re-enter the building “with a partner” in order to take necessary items from the dorm rooms.
While I was ready to be extremely critical of the school for allowing McCrady to fall into disrepair, Smith was more positive about the school’s response to the incident, saying that the school was “in a rush to get things fixed, and handled it pretty well considering the circumstances.”
The flooding of McCrady hall is just another chapter in the hall’s history of less than stellar living conditions. Sometimes, it feels like McCrady is the hall that time forgot, a feeling that one gets when one can look out from the dorm and see the nearly brand new Ayers hall, one of the most modern and upscale residence halls on campus. With all the talk of new building projects, such as moving the bookstore or even moving the School of Theology to central campus, Sewanee has to remember its current infrastructure before it literally caves in on them.
In its heyday, McCrady was THE address to have. Just across the ravine from Gaylor (then the dining hall), hang a left instead of straight and you were at the Beta House in 42 steps. Classes, DuPont, and All Saints were an easy stroll away. In fact, I count it a tangible manifestation of the grace of God that my first assignment was room 108… where I stayed until I loaded up the U Haul after graduation 4 years later. The promise to stay in 108 was the consideration for Maintenance to repaint my room in the exact shade I picked the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. Heated bathroom floors… the list of amenities just goes on and on. In addition, it bears the name of the most impactful VC until Bob Ayres. Come on Sewanee… open up the purse strings and make McCrady rise like the Phoenix. Don’t let it go the way of Rebels Rest, the Kirby-Smith Monument, and the other traditional hallmarks of The University of the South.
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