What Bexley means to its resident community

Editor’s Note: The Tech received numerous letters from Bexley residents after last week’s announcement that Bexley would be closing for up to three years due to structural problems. Printed here is a representative subset of those letters.

Bexley is a living and breathing beast, constantly changing yet remaining the same. Bexley is a hundred years of visible history scrawled and splattered onto its insides. Bexley is irreverence and nonconformity. Bexley is a free space. Bexley is my closest friends in the world. Bexley is misfits. Bexley is a bunch of people with nothing in common, who realize that fact itself is what they have in common. Bexley is a place for everyone. Bexley is who I am. Bexley is home.

I cannot say that I chose to come to MIT because of Bexley specifically, but definitely for the general feel that MIT was different. Other colleges don’t have a housing system like ours, where you have so much opportunity to actually choose a home, not just get allocated a random bed to sleep in. I am so grateful to have had these past two years in Bexley, even if my next two will be elsewhere. Bexley has shaped the person I have become today in so many ways it is impossible to even put into words. Bexley is truly the love of my life, and I am absolutely heartbroken to have to leave it.

Tilly A. Taylor ’15

Even just the prospect of being split from this community makes me feel lost and alone. I don’t think people understand what we mean to one another. Even my family doesn’t really comprehend it. I don’t think they want to understand that the love I feel for you might rival that which I hold for them; that I take pride in your past traditions and culture just as much as I take pride in my own heritage. You were what really excited me about MIT. Everyone says that they come here to study because you don’t say no to MIT. To tell the truth, saying that if Bexley didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have come here would be an exaggeration, but there is no way I could have anticipated just how important you have become to me. I was more ecstatic about making my first “I Jerk Off” shirt, a symbol of the Bexley community, than I was about receiving my Brass Rat last week.

I am a member of the MIT community. I love MIT. But my connection to MIT does not even come close to my connection to the Bexley. MIT would not be the same without Bexley. To be frank, I don’t know if I could survive MIT without you. Each and every person in Bexley is his or her own unique individual. That’s not to say that the rest of the MIT population is not unique or important. But not every person, let alone every undergrad, plays a crucial role in my life the way that every single member of the Bexley community does. The thought that this community may be splintered makes my heart heavy; I feel as if I am trying to breathe with only one lung.

Please don’t take these people away from me.

Noga Feinberg ’15

By the end of CPW, I knew I wanted to live here. It was the sense of humor that attracted me — dark and bizarre, and the kind of humor you’ll only find funny if you don’t take yourself too seriously. This quality of Bexley — the capacity to not take itself too seriously — is a rare one at MIT, and it has kept me sane these past few years.

In Bexley, I have made some of the truest and closest friends I have. There is nowhere else on campus where I identify with the people I’ve met nearly as much as in Bexley. When I meet Bexley alumni, I see that they share qualities that I appreciate in the other people who live here — unpretentious creativity, wry humor, low tolerance for rules and bureaucracy, and delight in making a particularly colorful mess. These values are different from those held by MIT in general, which is why I am so grateful to this community for giving me space to stop acting and feel at home.

This is an ongoing culture, somehow preserved despite the steady four-year rotation of students. I’d guess underclassmen who share these qualities choose to live here because this is where they feel happy. Maybe the decades-long, spontaneously-recorded history stored in bright layers on the walls, with its cryptic messages of good times passed, provides some force for continuity.

These past few days I keep imagining if I’d arrived here to find a newly-renovated Bexley that didn’t allow paint or cats or loud, spontaneous bluegrass trios in the hallway at 2 a.m. I’m not sure I would have made it through. I’ve had days when I’m fed up with MIT, sick of the pressure, and I sit down in the lounge and people I love walk in and start talking to me, making me laugh, and after an hour or so I’ve recovered a sense of perspective. The walls are an important outlet, too — I’ve spent dozens of hours putting paint on these walls, big bright creatures, landscapes and neighborhoods that probably wouldn’t have made it through the approval process other paint-the-walls dorms require.

I’m terrified that after the renovation process is done, New Bexley will be deemed too shiny for the noise, color, and freedom it has housed for decades. I understand that the building needs repair. But I hope that its personality will be preserved, because there are always going to be kids here who, like me, really need this place.

Sophie L. Diehl ’14

People that know me know that I am forever missing my home in West Virginia. I never thought that I would find a community that I loved and felt as comfortable in as that one, but I managed to find one in Bexley.

I feel lucky to have found a second home so similar to my first one. I have a place to live where I am surrounded not just by my best friends but by poets, crossdressers, tropical boiz and a whole collection of other crazy, weird, inspiring people. I feel comfortable leaving my door open all day when I’m not home, so that the kitty Jenga can come and go as she pleases. I feel comfortable walking through the dorm in my pajamas to pick up packages and donuts from Besk. I feel comfortable getting hamtossed with my friends and romping around on Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes even Tuesday or Wednesday, but who cares. Bexley truly is my home. It is a place that is never quiet. It is full of life that only a family of 116 coed residents can bring. Everything about this place is full of that life — the endless murals on the walls, the blaring of buttrock on the nicer days Cambridge offers up, the groups of friends that gather in suites to eat and drink and get weird.

Knowing that I will not get to spend my senior year among the winding, painted suites that make up my home gives me that same sense of loss that caused me to cry the full ten hours from West Virginia to Boston on my first trip to college. I honestly don’t know what next year is going to be like without a home to come back to everyday, and I’m not looking forward to it. I will be forever missing my home in Bexley.

Viva Bexxxley.

Andrea D. Nickerson ’14

“Education is not so much knowledge as it is learning how to think.” —David Foster Wallace

Never have I come across, on campus or in all the walks of my own life, a greater or richer collective of humanism than the family I have found at Bexley Hall. Some have called us rule-breakers, or misfits, and with them I do not disagree, and it’s a culture I would not trade for anything. You’ll be hard pressed to find such a group of people whose personalities, ideas, and ideologies are so diverse and yet so respected by all. In a world where most are happy to pick, say, who they are and who they stand with, Republican, Democrat, Christian, atheist, red, blue, cake, pie… and are so quick to conform ideas to create a strong voice, Bexley has been a haven where I can say that I don’t stand with any group, I stand with the humans, I stand with Bexley. As Wallace says, when we choose to think, choose to listen to others, to be truly thoughtful and respectful about their beliefs and ideas, there is no need to agree, no need to be a party or a collective, and nowhere is that more apparent and more appreciated than Bexley Hall.

So, our walls aren’t white, and they say things you might not agree with, but then, that’s the point. What Bexley has shown itself to be is not a dorm, but a true family, and a true bastion of humanity. It has made me a better person every day that I have spent here, and the day that culture of acceptance and respect is extinguished will be among the most lamentable.

Daniel H. Lizardo ’15

Buttrock used to play every night. At 9 p.m., sharp, Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog” would play on a loop 10 times or 15 times (who can remember this anymore?) unless someone had taken the initiative to vote for another song, and usually no one did. I lived on the courtyard freshman year, and so I was one of the lucky people, not counting the innocents on Mass Ave, blessed with this reliable musical interlude. Sometimes it was awful, I would fume silently to the dulcet tones of “now you’re messin’ with... a son of a bitch!” But mostly it was awesome. And now, I can’t believe that Buttrock (which has since diversified and moved rooms and conformed a little more to the weather and people’s habits) will cease to exist. Our noisy, shabby, often smelly, usually smoky home is now something to memorialize, since the walls weren’t permanent enough. I love this place, and I’m going to miss it terribly.

Soraya I. Shehata ’13

Anonymous over 10 years ago

You guys are awesome. The MIT community is behind you. We want to see you make it through this difficult period and go back to a residential space that you can call Bexley again. It will likely be an uphill battle.

My personal opinion - don't try to preserve Bexley precisely as it is now. Paint new murals in the new space, but make sure there is a new space to paint murals in. What is worth preserving is the freedom to have a place called Bexley, which grows, evolves, and changes, as it has through the years, while still falling back on the same ineffable bedrock qualities.

Kevin G. Rhoads over 10 years ago

As first an unofficial then an official house tutor (a.k.a., Graduate Resident) in Bexley for fourteen years I say Bexley will LIVE ON -- three years of Bexley-in-Exile my be a pain, but it is surmountable.