In her weekly column, series blogger Rebecca Farley lends a platform to the university's unheard voices. This week, she sat down with John Jay lounge who, until Thursday at noon, had been housing the area for housing selection.
When I go to interview John Jay lounge, it is just as the housing carnival is packing up for the day. Only it is Thursday, and it is the last day of housing selection, so the carnival is gone for good. As I approach, John Jay lounge is shaking his head firmly at the ground.
"You never get used to it, you know?" he tells me. "They come every year and every year I'm sad to see it leave."
John Jay lounge has hosted housing selection for at least a decade. He has sat through carnivals, 40 Arabian Nights, and other various maybe-offensive potential prom themes. And he's loved them all.
"Call the banners chintzy if you like"—he gets defensive, although I've yet to say anything—"but I love it all. I loved Arabian Nights in 2006, I thought 'Under the Sea' was adorable."
He pauses and looks at me.
"That being said," he says, leaning in to me, "In 2004, the Britney/Justin theme was a little rough. There was a lot of denim, you know?"
I finally get a word in: "So you like the decorations?"
This year, housing selection in John Jay was carnival-themed. The lounge, usually full of muted browns and reds, was suddenly filled with the garish colors of a carnival. Students asked "why?" students asked "how?" students asked "what's a carnival?" There were cardboard cutouts of carnival barkers and various forms of the game "throw something at something else." Amidst the excitement of selecting housing for the next academic year, John Jay lounge had been transformed.
"Yes, well, it's nice to look nice," he explains. "You know that Thanksgiving dinner that they do?"
"That one's just as fun—it's like I get to put on a tuxedo! I don't mind getting dressed up." He looks over at the housing people, who are still packing up.
"Well, what's your favorite part about non-housing selection time?" John Jay lounge is a hub of activity—any residence hall lounge is.
He thinks for a minute, picking at his own carpet. "I guess I like to watch people play the piano." His voice breaks as if he's going to cry.
"But it's really not as fun as watching people eat kettle corn, it really isn't." Now he is fully emotional, forcing words through lounge-y sobs.
"What's so fun about watching people eat kettle corn?" I have to ask. This is the first year, to my knowledge, that we were even given kettle corn.
"It's fun!" he wails. "Goodbye, Spec bloggers! Goodbye, nervous freshman! Goodbye kettle corn! Goodbye to smushy apples and dry oranges—semi-cold sprite and individually-wrapped Swedish fish! Goodbye!" John Jay lounge pulls out a hanky and begins dabbing at his face.
Some students who have begun filtering into the now-empty lounge give us puzzled looks. I resist the urge to tell John Jay lounge he's making the scene (I forget: He is the scene.)
"Now, now," I say instead. "There will always be next year."
John Jay lounge sniffles. "I suppose you're right."
There is a silence as John Jay lounge considers the cyclical nature of housing selection.
"But," he begins, "but do you think you could bring me some kettle corn?"
Rebecca Farley is a junior with a distinct interest in kettle corn.