This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
distance, marking the arrival of one of the five dysfunctional elevators in Walker Tower to Floor Ten. A few moments later, a door is opened and in walks a girl, letting the door go behind her to slam loudly against its frame. It’s midafternoon and classes are over; it’s time to catch up on some homework. She steers herself toward the direction of the floor’s community study room—the watering hole of Floor Ten East. Lightly tossing her backpack to the ground, she plops onto a chair at one of the two large tables in the room and pulls out her laptop. She begins to read for her Expository English class. A short time later, another ping is heard. Another door is slammed. Another girl arrives at the study room. Half an hour passes and the same events occur. After an hour or so, the room is filled to the brim with cackling, rambunctious girls. They all switch on and off between doing something productive—like writing an essay, studying for their upcoming Chemistry exam, or doing their Calculus homework—and having fun—like animatedly sharing funny stories or simply socializing about their day. This goes on well into the evening, and after a routine dinner, the girls continue to share much-loved times of camaraderie. Within the University of Oklahoma’s expansive website the branch of Housing and Food Services enlightens us on the very beginnings of the Walker Tower dormitories. Standing since 1966, Walker Center was established when President George Lynn Cross decided to add onto the
2 housing communities on campus. Originally called “Couch North”—due to its origins as an addition to Couch Tower—it received its current and final title when it was named by the Board of Reagents in honor of Edward A. Walker, a banker—well-known for his prestigious community service while living in Oklahoma City—whose wife declared in her will that their money be donated to the university. Ever since that time, almost fifty years of students have come and gone from that tower; fifty years of students have lived in the very same type of community that I was just recently born into mid-August. Walker Tower Floor Ten East—most commonly recognized as the Women’s National Merit Floor—is one of the craziest, yet most active communities I have witnessed on campus thus far. These girls aren’t recognized by their hair or by the way they look; they’re unique individuals with their own styles and fashions. They display themselves not through looks, but through action and behavior. These girls are recognized by their slightly energetic nature, great sense of humor, cackling laughter, and laid back personalities. They know who they are and they know when they’ve come across someone from their floor because they’ve spent so much time together that a tightly-knit bond has been created between each of them. Together, they create a community that would categorize under author James Gee Paul’s concept of “Real Indians.” Through Gee’s eyes, the idea of being a “Real Indian” is having the ability to recognize and be recognized by the community an individual belongs to. Yet this is no simple feat, and Gee shows us this by saying that “making visible who we are and what we are doing…requires…that we act, think, value, and interact in ways that together…render who we are and what we are doing recognizable to others (and ourselves)” (443). Proven through Gee’s concept of “Real Indians,” the tenth floor of Walker East shows that living in a dorm community
3 is not only a unique and unforgettable experience, but also that it is essential and beneficial to an incoming freshman’s transition into college. Each girl on the tenth floor of the Walker East community, if blind, could probably still recognize each and every one of their floor mates. Each girl has come to know one another as one of their own because there is a specific way that things are run in the Walker Ten East community that is both unique and distinguishable from other dormitory settings. Their actions, values, behavior, and interactions set them apart from other dorm communities enough to where they could see any visitors as more like strangers. Just as in the becoming and existing of a “Real Indian” in Gee’s excerpt, a new floor-mate to Walker Ten East wouldn’t be seen as a true part of the community at the very beginning. Over time she would have to learn the ways, beliefs, actions, behavior, interactions, and systems of the other girls, and then be able to recognize and be recognized as such before she was to be considered as one of these girls. From now on, I will refer to these girls as the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers.” “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” know they are unique and recognize others to be quite different because of it. “From what I’ve heard,” says resident Katie Taylor, “it seems like most of the other floors don’t spend much time socializing with each other.” To be a part of the “Real Eastern Ten Walker” community, an individual would have to partake in the day-today activities that go on. The “Real Eastern Ten Walker” stomping grounds would have to be the large study room located on the right wing of Floor Ten. Here the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” spend most of their time doing various activities (in silence, high volume, or a healthy medium between the two) such as studying, watching posted videos on YouTube, relaxing, socializing, or eating. Another gathering place, though not nearly as popular, would be the TV room located directly caddy-corner to the study room. On weekend nights, the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” gather to
4 watch a wide variety of movies—some scary like the horror movie “Vacancy” and other happy and romantic like Disney Classics. Even when the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” aren’t spending time on their floor, they still carry out their activities to farther places—like to the Adams Center for a late-night ice cream social or to the ever popular Couch Cafeteria for a routine dinner at 5:30pm. Though an important part to the “Real Eastern Ten Walker” community, activities aren’t the only aspects which make it so special. There’s a certain camaraderie among these people that really stands out—a sense of loyalty, friendship, and dependency upon one another that is unique to their community. When a “Real Eastern Ten Walker” is in trouble, she isn’t afraid to seek out help from her floor-mates—nor are they reluctant to help her out. When someone is confused about something, or needs help finding a certain location for an event, a fellow “Real Eastern Ten Walker” is willing to help out in any way she can. “There [is]…a really strong support system,” says resident Taylor Jensen, “I’m used to being an only child [so]…it’s nice to have people around.” The “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” will accompany each other in doing something as simple as laundry and as complex as going to a concert or movie. A quality connected to this companionship is their joy in sharing with one another, whether it’s just some words of advice or a large pile of free candy sitting by the community whiteboard. For these “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” it’s not about pleasing themselves—it’s about enjoyment and fun for all. In having this camaraderie, the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” have a certain system that they use to communicate with one another. The floor’s main whiteboard is like a beacon and communication system for the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers.” Here members of the community can read about upcoming events, silly comments, questions from fellow floor-mates, or just view
5 random doodles and drawings that passersby have decided to add. But this isn’t the only whiteboard on the floor. According to Katie Taylor, “Girls have whiteboards on individual doors.” The “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” try to contact one another in person, but when this isn’t possible, they rely on the system of leaving messages—personal or open to everyone—on whiteboards. As a final quality, behavior—as I mentioned earlier—is used to recognize and set the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” apart from other dorm communities. These individuals are energetic, lively, and unafraid to show who they really are—no matter if it happens to be in the comfort of their own home, or in the middle of all the students on the University of Oklahoma’s campus. In this community, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a couple of “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” doing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller dance” in the middle of the hallway. It’s not unusual to walk by the floor’s study room and hear loud, uncontrollable laughter flooding from the room, or for the resident advisor to need to come and quiet them down. These “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” are unique because they aren’t afraid to show their true colors and be themselves—no matter how ridiculous or immature they might seem to others. From activities and socializing, companionship and loyalty, to care-free attitudes and crazy personalities, these “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” create a community that is both beneficial and almost crucial to their transition into college life. They rely on one another to succeed academically and survive socially in this new environment they’ve been placed in. No other floor could replace Walker Floor Ten East, and not just any individual could join such a nontraditional and creative group as such without taking the time to properly integrate themselves. These girls are the “Real Indians” that James Gee Paul mentions, but with their own unique
6 twist. These girls accomplish to, in the words of Gee, “show accord and harmony” as the “Real Eastern Ten Walkers” of the University of Oklahoma (444). But just being a unique and identifiable community isn’t enough—it needs to have the power to make others desire to be a part of something just as special. Walker Ten East makes an impact as such with its intriguing and impressive ability to have beautifully woven such a diverse group of individuals into a tightly knit bond that will never be broken or forgotten. In observing this community over the past few weeks, I realize that it’s important for others to see that this is the kind of atmosphere that a freshman needs as they transfer from a life of dependence and shelter to one of independence and responsibility. The University of Oklahoma, like many other colleges, has a large campus that almost becomes like a miniature world engulfed and hidden by the city-scape around it. It’s new and it’s unfamiliar; it’s easy to become lost and confused. That’s why new students need a community of people that they can not only rely on, but work with as a team to strive to do their very best. In choosing to live in a dorm community, college students have the chance to discover the unique “Real Indian” inside of themselves that they never knew existed before. The sun has set and the clock is ticking closer to midnight. A portion of the girls in the study room tiredly pack up their things and stand up to head to bed. With smiles on their faces, they tell their friends a quiet good night with a slight wave. The rest of the girls continue to socialize and do their own thing, but eventually the clock stretches its hand past twelve and they too decide to head to bed. With simply spoken good nights and a few hugs here and there, they each wander off to their respective rooms.
7 Now one girl remains in the study room, stretching slightly as her eyes are becoming heavier with much-needed sleep. Deciding that it’s time to go, she packs up her things and slowly walks toward the door. With a final glance back at the now quiet and empty room, she silently wonders to herself what the next day will bring. A day has passed in a manner that will continue for many more future days to come—that is, until these girls go their separate ways. But their camaraderie doesn’t end here, for the numerous stories will be waiting to be told; waiting to carry out the “Real Eastern Ten Walker” legacy.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.