A tale of two Scobells

New Scobell bathroom. (credit: Zachary Gelman/) New Scobell bathroom. (credit: Zachary Gelman/) New Scobell common area (credit: Zachary Gelman/) New Scobell common area (credit: Zachary Gelman/)
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Last year was interesting for Scobell. Newly furnished with air conditioning units in every room, it was ready for the eighty-something freshmen that entered its four stories in late August. These freshies — “Scobros” as they are often called — were almost all thrust into this new dorm against their volition, victims of a cruel housing system that simply cannot accommodate demand. These Scobros would make their dorm their home, and grow to live with its peculiarities. When a faucet was stolen from the bathroom whilst the Scobros were at a big game, there was amusement, but not shock.

Afterall, the bathrooms were grimy and puddly, one with a large traffic cone propping the door and a drain right next to it, the floor slightly slanted so that the gray water could theoretically evacuate the premises. The men of Scobell were blessed with open urinals, a gift for the members of the last all-male dorm. And they would never forget their showers three, blocked from the world with nothing but a measly yellow plastic curtain. The first could fit a whole snowman, but had the water pressure of a withered old man. The second had a blackish mold-like substance that hovered above all who showered under it. And the third was cold and dank. Beyond the white tiles laid the grayish-greenish-brownish floor, slick and reflective. Many days one could find bare footprints printing an aquatic trail towards somebody's room.

And what a sight these rooms were — cramped and furnished in the way only male dorms could be, yet basking in an AC hard fought for by previous Scobros. It’s no wonder that these men would congregate in their lounges, if they happened to have one. The basement lounge was large, with frequently unplugged vending machines and measly washers and dryers and a kitchen island. Bottom dwellers and bottom-dwellers alike would meet here, watching “Breaking Bad” or playing Monopoly until sunrise. A pitiful first floor lounge existed, covered with tables for frequent congregation and a large whiteboard counting down the days until the school year’s end. There would be a lone gamer struggling at Elden Ring, eyes glued to the large television as one left to the Egg Shoppe and still glued when midnight snack came and went. Or a Super Bowl group watching, with pizza. The second floor lounge was a former office space, barely renovated. With shades down, shady groups hid behind, perhaps plotting, perhaps simply existing in all their qualities. Outside stood a water fountain with some of the best water on campus, maybe even the best. An investigative reporter tasked himself to find out, and we may soon publish the results. The third floor lounge held meetings, isolated from the other floors. Deliberations over dining location, infrequent movies, infrequent-er board games, hyper-common work sessions. Tight-knit as a shawl.

As the school year groaned to an end, so too did Scobell, as if knowing its renovation was arriving. The couches grew dirty, covered in the type of history unfit for the written word. The board games, purchased with the $60 Scobell game budget, descended downwards through the floors. The basement oven caught fire. Scobell was a broken phoenix, waiting to be reborn. One week before the semester’s end, the middle urinal of the third floor bathroom began to flush. And somehow, someway, it didn’t stop. Behind the exam all-nighters, the final dorm dinners, and the tearless goodbyes, the urinal could be heard in its perpetual flush, crying the tears that stoic Scobros would not. As the last male residents left for the final time, the urinal was still flushing itself away.

Miraculous how Scobell could reinvent itself in one summer, when Old Skibo still wails in the early morning for months on end.

Summer break gone, Scobell reopened. This time, for the “Scobelles.” Yet some things never change. When asked why she chose Scobell, freshman Ava Notarangelo explained: “It was not on my list. I don’t think it was on anybody's list.”

But as things stay the same, so do they change. At least for some, the Stockholm Syndromic nature of a Scobell residency has been replaced with pleasant first impressions: “I think I’m glad I got it instead of the other ones I put down. At first my roommate and I wanted Rez, [but] we’re definitely glad we don’t have to do that walk every time we want to go anywhere. It’s also super nice having the AC and new bathrooms and kitchens.”

The residents of the final single gender dorm on campus have been gifted with new carpeting covering the aforementioned slick floor, revamped lounges that offer a degree of privacy, and wonderful new bathrooms. Obviously gone are the urinals, and here to stay are new covered doors, increasing privacy for anyone who wants to shower or use the toilet. A center peninsula of sinks has sprung up, and people seem content. Who knows what the future holds for this old building. More people are accepted to Carnegie Mellon every year, and even with the new dorms opening up, there may come a time where there is not enough demand, or housing cannot manage, to have a single gender dorm. Just as the men lost Hamerschlag and Scobell, perhaps the women having lost Boss and McGill will lose Scobell too soon. What then will the future hold for the best campus dorm?