Seen on the covers of newsletters, brochures and even our PioneerOne cards, Gates Tower has become a classic representation of Grinnell College. But the tower is as functional as it is visually appealing. Every year, it is also the home to five lucky individuals, and this year, the Tower houses Alex Bolinger, Erik Dixon-Anderson, Eric Streed, Carter Wiese (all ’14) and Gio Danforth ’13.
Aside from Bolinger, the residents are all members of the Ultimate Frisbee team. Despite being the unofficial house of the men’s team, the Tower is open to everyone for parties and those in need of some shut-eye.
“People like to come up there to take naps—mostly people on our team,” Wiese said. “But I suppose if a random person wanted to take a nap up there, it’d be fine too.”
Dixon-Anderson described the Tower as “an off-campus house, on campus.” But something that most of the other houses do not encounter is frequent midday visitors. The group has become accustomed to seeing new students stumble onto their floor before quickly leaving, lost and confused.
However, the same sense of community in off-campus housing is found in the Tower, and this is very much reflected in the overall dynamic amongst the residents.
“There’s always somebody to hang out with, and it’s always someone that you want to hang out with,” Streed remarked.
Bolinger likely disagrees with this statement from time to time, though.
“We like to pull pranks on Alex,” Wiese said.
The pranks often come with little to no retaliation from Bolinger.
“He gets angry, then forgets about it, and then we do it again,” Dixon-Anderson added.
In addition to providing occasional amusement, the floormates have also contributed memorable items to personalize the Tower. Danforth found a cardboard cutout of Dumbledore in a movie theatre, which the group calls Gandalf. Colin Fry ’14 added to their cutout collection with one of Hillary Clinton, which has been named Monica Lewinsky, but fully expects the piece back when he returns from study abroad.
The group would not have been able to truly turn the Tower into a home without the makeshift kitchen, bar and game room as well as the help of their Facilities Management custodian and past Frisbee players who lived in 1120 Broad Street or the Brothel (stress on “Bro”).
“We have a really nice FM [worker], who lets us keep stuff in the hallway and bathroom,” Wiese said.
But it was their former teammates who provided them with their abundant collection of furniture.
“[After graduating,] they left all the couches out as trash, so we took them,” Streed shamelessly admitted.
As with anywhere, living in the Tower does not come without some challenges, including shortness of breath from climbing up four flights of stairs and concussions from trying to beat the system.
“[If locked out,] you can climb over the doorway [through the ceiling] and get into the room on the other side, so we don’t have to call Security,” Wiese said. “We have a pull-up bar up there, and Alex fell off and gave himself a concussion.”
The occupants of Gates Tower have proven that a group does not need to live off-campus to build a personalized space with all the commodities of a house or apartment. Additionally, the Tower provides some perks that no house could offer, such as a central location, a very enviable view, and of course, living in one of Grinnell’s most iconic buildings.