Students speak out about Ross Hall, Irvington House dissonance on campus

See why Ross and Irvington residents believe there is a sense of discordance between the students making up each residence hall. Collegian file photos.


In 2018, Butler saw two major housing events take place. The Butler administration decided to keep Ross Hall in operation for another year — contrary to the “Ross Love for Life 1953-2018” shirts worn by those residents believed to be its last inhabitants — and Irvington House opened its doors to a new class of first years. 

Irvington, with the latest amenities, updated rooms and larger community spaces, provides a stark contrast to the dated Ross Hall. As Irvington has now been in use for two years, the discord surrounding the two dorms has led to an interesting dissonance between students residing there.

One of the most noticeable differences is in the communities built within each dorm. Ross residents are quickly indoctrinated with the ideology of “Ross Love,” referring to the friendly, open door policies of Ross residents — all of whom are totally friends, right? Some students are quick to adapt to this way of life, while others feel that it has no real impact on their Butler experience. 

Riley Keller, a first-year music performance major, is a resident of Ross who has not experienced the hype surrounding the phrase. 

“Personally, I haven’t witnessed a close-knit community that warrants the phrase ‘Ross Love,’” Keller said. “The students living here either all get to know one another or tuck themselves away entirely. Which isn’t all that surprising given the state of the facilities. The whole building sort of sucks the life out of you, especially if you’re someone with social anxiety.”

Devon Cummings, a first-year music education and vocal performance double major, is another Ross resident. Unlike Keller, Cummings said that he felt a close connection to other students at Butler due to his residence hall — particularly the upperclassmen.

“I feel more connected, if anything,” Cummings said. “A lot of people who came before me and a lot of upperclassmen lived in Ross and that is something that we can share. It allows us to have something in common as students — living in Ross helps us find common ground.” 

Despite Ross’ historic slogan, the dorm’s outdated facilities can make it the butt of the joke when comparing it to the pristine expanse of Irvington. Keller said that some Irvington residents have even compared the looks of Ross’ basement to a homeless shelter. 

But the assumptions are not just one-sided. Over the past two years, many students have generated just as many opinions about Irvington residents as they have Ross. 

“Most people assume that the freshmen living in Irvington are spoiled and rich because that dorm is so much nicer and more expensive to live in,” Keller said. “These assumptions are proven correct in most situations, but we shouldn’t be so quick to write off everyone who lives in Irvington.”

Of course, there is a hefty price difference between the two dorms. According to Butler’s website, an average double room in Irvington House costs $3,635 per semester while a double room in Ross Hall costs $2,860 per semester — a difference of $775 per semester and $1,550 for the entire academic year.

Zach Doering, a first-year environmental studies major, is an Irvington resident who acknowledges the grandeur of his dorm and its impact on campus perceptions. 

“Close friends joke about how Irvington is super fancy and kinda bougie and it’s true,” Doering said. “They mean nothing harmful by it, but I think it also adds to the community disconnect…I don’t think people living in Resco or Ross blame people for living in Irvington but I think the existence of the building itself is a reminder of the elitist nature and culture of the school.”

In regards to that disconnect, Doering believes it is likely that Irvington’s impressive looks and distance from the rest of the residence halls has somewhat led to the subsequent tension between students. But while there may be tension, Doering does not believe the differences are fostering hatred or ruining student relationships. 

“I think Irvington gives students a physical structure or object to focus their anger or frustration at regarding the inequality among students and the lack of care from the higher-ups of the university,” Doering said. 

Aside from the obvious differences in price and quality, Irvington has also been criticized by students for being unable to replicate the alleged fellowship of Ross. With Irvington came the accessibility to large, private study spaces, better communal areas for socialization and a generally nicer environment for students to live in. 

AJ Bowman, a first-year music education major and fellow Irvington resident, believes that these innumerable amenities result in students leaving their rooms less — something that can hurt the community feeling that dorms should strive for. 

Similar to Doering, Bowman has also been made fun of for living in Irvington, but has not felt any true animosity behind students’ remarks.

“I’m sure there are students that hold genuine animosity towards students that live in Irvington, as well as students in Irvy that genuinely act superior because they filled out a housing application slightly sooner,” Bowman said. 

In fact, Bowman believes that the frequency of these jokes can depend on the dorm that the student resides in. 

“Ross students are less likely to engage in the jokes about who lives where than Irvington or ResCo students,” Bowman said. “This is admittedly possible because they spend a lot of time making fun of their own residence hall — Ross Love.”

Ultimately, Bowman, Doering, Cummings and Keller believe that the community disconnect between Ross and other residence halls is an internal issue Butler needs to address. 

“Butler seems to be prioritizing academic buildings at present, and while this is good, students can only learn when they’re in a nurturing environment, and a huge part of that is the condition they live in.” Bowman said.

Students believe that if Butler is to resolve the incongruous nature of dorm life on its campus, changes must be implemented so all feel as if their living environment is healthy and the playing field on which they reside with their peers is level.

“I think the university should concentrate more on adequate accommodations for current classes of students,” Keller said. “If they keep accepting bigger and bigger classes, the campus will just not be able to sustain everyone. Instead of building new residence halls and using the old ones for overflow, the university should fix up the older dorms so that they are more accessible.”


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One Comment;

  1. Bob Conway said:

    Interesting how the issue of economic inequality — albeit on a somewhat attenuated scale — comes up even within the realm of university dormitory life these days. That’s not something to which my contemporaries and I were very sensitive back in the 1960s, as I recall. Sure, our campus (Western Michigan University) had groups of newer and older dorms with some differences in amenities, but perhaps because the two sets of dorms were not located very close to each other physically, each set of dorm residents tended to be more insular and not particularly concerned with what was going on elsewhere on campus.

    It’s probably a good thing that at least some of today’s university students — at least at Butler U. — are thinking about this issue and are aware of these subtle class distinctions. Positive change — progress — usually begins with awareness.