It’s 3 o’clock in the morning in early October in the tiny town of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. An electronic shriek rips through the dangerously cozy quarters of Hutcheson Hall. Students scramble, bright-eyed, to their feet, throwing off their confining bedsheets and dashing for the stairs. Mere moments pass and the platoon lines up behind the dormitory, ready for a headcount. Authorities stand over their clans, waiting to report to the proper authorities. The fire alarm has gone off again, and Hutcheson Hall is ready.
The Mustering of Hutcheson Hall is a glorious event to behold. The sparkle of eyes, alert and glinting in the light of the streetlamps; neat rows of students, thankful that their alert system has once again given them an early start to their day and saved them from a reluctant awakening at the nagging of their alarms; the proud array of assorted pajamas, ranging from unicorn onesies for the brave to simple gym shorts and tanks for the more classy students—I wish I could communicate just how profoundly moving this vision of solidarity is when witnessed in the wee hours of a Wednesday morning.
Spirits are high and smiles bright as I interview students about the phenomenon. I listen as a freshman girl gushes: “Yeah, so a few weeks ago I was taking this super late shower, and all of a sudden it went off. I dunno, the shower was making too much steam or something.” She wipes a grateful tear from the corner of her eye. “Then, a few days later, I was reading on the internet and it turns out hot showers are, like, so bad for your skin.” She turns away, caught up in the emotion of the moment. “Thank you, Hutcheson Hall. Who knows what my boyfriend would have done if my skin had, like, freaked out or something. You saved me from a painful breakup. I’ll never forget you.”
Another student expresses similar sentiments. He’s remarkably good-looking, his craggy face turned up to the left as he gazes into the distance. His voice is impossibly low and manly. “Yeah, so, I usually get up at 5 or so, uh, to go work out. On these mornings, it’s, uh, even better, because I can do, uh, like, uh, my bodyweight training for two hours before, uh, the gym’s even open. Then I go and do my cardio once it, you know, once it opens,” He gestures vaguely towards the health complex, surveying me and my unimpressive figure as I guiltily cross my arms to hide my absent abs. He chuckles, then extends his fist to bump mine in the universal act of brotherhood. “Bro, we should totally work out sometime,” he said. I smile weakly. He’s bruised my knuckles.
I spend a bit more time assessing the collective gratefulness the student body has for their alert system. Everyone has a story to tell. One student likes early morning alarms because she “can see 3:33, 4:44 and 5:55 a.m.” on her digital alarm clock. One student takes advantage of the extra hour in the day to engage in yoga and meditation. One student simply enjoys the rush of adrenaline the piercing squeals always produce in him.
Whatever the reason, the vote’s in, and it’s unanimously favorable. Here’s to your fire alarms, Hutcheson Hall. We love you. Never change.
Caleb Place – Copy Editor