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Filling Warren Towers

Hundreds brave the storm and settle in

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In the slide show above, a day in the life of moving in.

Hurricane Danny, Cirque du Soleil, the Red Sox, even a cautionary letter from the dean of students, didn’t stop scores of first-years and their families from showing up Saturday for move-in at Warren Towers. Warren is the second largest nonmilitary dorm in the country, home to some 1,800 BU undergrads, most of them freshmen.

BU Today set up shop in the Warren cinema room to document the day, and become a part of it; the writing for this story was on the wall, literally. Many arrivals stopped by to find out what we were up to, and despite first-day jitters, families were kind enough to let us tag along as they wheeled boxes and luggage through the garage, into tight elevators, down hallways, around corners, and into their new homes — and lives.

Allison Chowdhury (SMG’13), Denver, Colo.
Allison Chowdhury flew in Friday night with her mother, Kathy Gordon. Chowdury’s shoes squeak on the waxed linoleum floors as they muscle a small mountain range of luggage toward the B Tower elevators. The pair took a cab from their hotel, so didn’t encounter the armada of wheeled moving bins in the parking garage one floor below. Gordon, a Boston University sweatshirt tied around her waist, has to catch a flight back to Colorado in eight hours.

Four years ago, Gordon saw her other daughter off to college, “but it doesn’t get any easier,” she says. “I’ll miss having Allison there to talk with, to mess around with, cook with, eat with …”

A few minutes later, Chowdhury, who plans to major in marketing, fits the key into the lock of her room on the 13th floor and pushes open the door. “Yeahh!” she calls, looking around.

“Welcome home,” Gordon says, scanning the painted cinderblock walls with a mother’s eye.

“I have to choose which side I want,” Chowdhury says, leaning her suitcases against the bed and pulling open the curtain. “Look at the lovely view — of the other tower.”

She unpacks shoes and belts, then sets one empty suitcase on the floor and moves another onto her bed.

“You could put some stuff on the other bed for now because you know your roommate won’t be here until tomorrow,” Gordon suggests, pulling back the closet curtain and peering in.

“I know,” Chowdhury replies. “But I don’t want to get into that habit.”

Gordon checks for outlets by the mirror and doesn’t find any. “We’ll need to go to Bed Bath and Beyond,” she says, ever the mother. “You’re going to need an extension cord.”

Chowdhury flips another empty suitcase to the floor.

Erik Herold (ENG’13), Fitchburg, Mass.
Erik Herold somehow manages to steer his yellow moving cart, piled with boxes and suitcases, around parked cars on the third floor of the parking garage and toward the A Tower elevators without seeing where he’s going. It’s as if he’s already found his center of gravity and is following the pull. He sports a black long-sleeve T-shirt, jeans, and a Red Sox ball cap.

Erik is accompanied by his father, Marty, his mother, Renee, and one of his younger twin brothers, Ryan. The family’s Ford Excursion is too tall to park close to the elevators, but the windows and tires are still dry; tropical storm Danny has been holding his breath so far. Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore sent a letter on Thursday urging incoming freshmen to consider moving in Friday or Sunday because of the weather, a Red Sox game, and the funeral service for U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. “We thought if the letter scared everybody else off, we’d be the better for it,” says Renee, a medical technologist. “They closed exit 22, which was the one we needed. We had to do a flip around on the highway, but traffic wasn’t too bad.”

A shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in the elevator makes it clear that not everyone was scared off. “This reminds me of the old clowns-in-the-Volkswagen trick,” Renee chuckles as the elevator rises to the 16th floor.

“Never go above seven,” Marty says. “Ladders can’t reach much above the seventh floor.”

“He’s a firefighter,” Renee says. “He always thinks like that.”

“Room 1609,” Erik shouts as they step into the hallway.

“Hey, you’re my neighbor,” says a dude waiting by the elevator. “You’ve got a sweet view.” It’s hard to tell whether he means it or if Erik also will be met with a wall of tower windows.

Sincerity wins out. Beyond his new window is a staggering sight: Fenway Park, the Prudential building shrouded in fog, the green dome of Morse auditorium, the Citgo sign glowing against a damp gray sky, red smears of brake lights on Comm Ave. Erik adjusts his Sox cap and stares. He’ll never get any work done in here.

“This is a $500-a-night hotel room view,” Marty says, laying back on one of the beds. “It’s amazing that a freshman can get this kind of view. You’d think it’d be for seniors.”

Erik lifts his new bed while his mother crawls around to insert risers under the legs to create storage space.

“It feels like I’m sending him away,” Renee says, “but considering there’s a commuter train that brings him straight from BU to downtown Fitchburg, it’s not as wrenching as it could be. He could be home in an hour.”

Erik is silent, while his younger brother takes pictures of the view.

“What will you miss most about home?” I ask.

“You better say, ‘Your mother,’” his mom says, laughing.

“My mother.” Erik smiles.

“I think he’s going to miss the car he sold last night,” she says.

“I figured I wouldn’t need it in the city,” Erik says, separating a bunch of hangers.

Renee tosses the first empty box to the floor and shakes out a pair of bedsheets. “Anything you want to help with?” she chides her husband.

“He’s got to make his own room,” Marty replies. “His mother can’t do it for him.”

“I can make his bed,” she says. “I don’t mind.”

Danielle Galloway (CAS’13), Atlanta, Ga.
Danielle Galloway, from BU’s second Posse group out of Atlanta, stops by our table with a bright smile and a head full of spiky braids, wearing a BU hoodie. The Posse Foundation, a national nonprofit scholarship program, recruits and trains motivated urban students — usually from public schools — for life on university campuses. Galloway has just pulled in from Georgia, leaving at 3 p.m. the day before and plowing through Danny’s natural car wash for much of the 18-hour drive. But no signs of road weariness: her eyes shine and even though she’s standing still, she seems to bounce. “I’m so excited to see my room,” she says. “I’m excited to be here.”

Galloway heads to the parking garage, where her “adopted parents” are manning a large orange bin piled skyscraper-high. She grew up homeless, bouncing around city shelters and attending 10 schools. Galloway’s mantra: “If I can get through math, I can get through anything.” Her high school calculus teacher, Azizi Ray, and her guidance counselor, Terina Isaac, have taken her under their wing and all but adopted her. “She’s our baby,” Ray says, pushing the cart onto the elevator.

Two minutes later, they are standing in front of a room on the 13th floor. Galloway fits the key into the lock. “You might want to knock first,” Ray smiles. “She might be naked. She might even have somebody over.”

Galloway raps vigorously, then twists the knob and steps inside. She spins around as if to take in the whole room at once. Ray checks out some of her roommate’s photos. “Is that her? She has a younger sister, or a niece.”

“I need bed risers,” Galloway says, reaching for the sheets.

“Before you put those down, we need to Lysol the bed,” Ray says.

“That’s mom for you,” Galloway quips.

She scans her new roommate’s side again. “I have way more stuff than she does,” she says, a little embarrassed.

“In Danielle’s situation,” Isaac says later, “everything she owns has to travel with her. She feel attached to it; it’s the only thing that’s not going to leave her.”

Ray nods in agreement.

“We were looking at her boxes and she has her summer shoes, her spring shoes, and we’re like, ‘You’re probably not going to need those in a week or two,’” Ray says. “But she needs it. It gives her a sense of home.”

Outside the window, the rain is picking up.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu. Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Filling Warren Towers

  • Anonymous on 09.01.2009 at 1:00 pm

    18A has the best views

    The side facing downtown had the best views for a freshman…
    anyone in 1805? I believe its the corner room closest to the elevators :)

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