Butler students share stories about their senior houses. Collegian file photo.
DAVID CLARK | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Senior year — newfound freedom for many students and a step closer to adulthood — often means new adventures with living off campus. Many seniors take special care in making decisions about their residency, especially when looking to live in a senior house. The environment of every senior house is unique, and this year has presented especially unique challenges in the face of COVID-19.
Tradition among Butler seniors in off-campus housing often includes consistencies across all houses. That includes most students living on their own for the first time. Whether it be ghosts, a massive slip and slide or memories of Metro Diner’s closing, seniors find plenty of ways to make their senior house a home.
Emily Holdeman: An elderly neighbor
Senior marketing major Emily Holdeman lives in a senior house off of Rookwood Avenue, near Hinkle Fieldhouse. However, coming into the fall of 2020, this was the last place Holdeman expected to be living. COVID-19 and Butler’s changing housing requirements also complicated things.
“My roommate and I, we had a plan. We were going to try and get in Butler housing with two of our other friends,” Holdeman said. “Sadly, it kind of just came down to a lot of uncertainty about where we were going to end up.”
So during the summer, Holdeman and her roommate searched for a small house they might be able to live in for their senior year. What made the situation more unusual was that the pair signed their lease having never seen their house in person. They had to trust that what pictures were online matched the house’s condition, which it thankfully did.
“I just love the environment we’ve created. I think we’ve made it a place where all of our friends can just come in whenever they want,” Holdeman said. “We created a loving place where everyone can come over and take [away] the stress of COVID.”
Their house has hosted everything from movie nights to Mario Kart tournaments to Easter Sunday brunch, Holdeman said, which is what she will miss about her senior house next year. Having those late-night, authentic, college experiences is part of what gives her so much joy in a year with so many impacts from COVID-19.
There is one part of Holdeman’s living experience that she said she was not expecting, however.
“Our house is part of a duplex, so we have a lovely neighbor that me and my roommate have never actually formally met,” Holdeman said. “We’ve nicknamed him Roger.”
Holdeman’s neighbor is on the older side, and she said it has been interesting to hear him through the house’s shared wall at some points. For the longest time, neither her nor Holdeman’s roommate saw the neighbor at the same time. This continued long enough that the pair considered “Roger” might be a ghost.
Overall, Holdeman could not be happier with her experience in her house this year. Holdeman’s roommate will actually live in the house again next year, as she enters into her fifth year in Butler’s pharmacy program.
Mike Averill: A 70-foot slip-and-slide
Senior statistics major Mike Averill and his three housemates live in a senior house on the western half of the Knoll, a row of houses south of Butler’s main campus. So many of their house’s memories have come during moments of spontaneous inspiration, like when they created a gigantic slip-and-slide.
“We might have stolen a big thing of soap from our [fraternity] house, and used the hose and put it all on the tarp,” Averill said. “I’m pretty sure it was about 70 feet long.”
For a housemate’s 21st birthday over the summer, Averill and others also made an in-house bar crawl, since bars weren’t open at the time. They also use their four-seasons room for a variety of different things, including a gym and a place to practice putting and chipping for golf.
Kyle Scharf, a senior marketing and management information systems double major, also lives in the house with Averill. He said events such as these epitomize the environment the house has tried to keep over the past year.
“We’re very middle-of-the-road vibes,” Scharf said. “We’re not the ‘party house’ but we’re a house that has people over to hang out, watch sports, socialize — whatever.”
Another point of pride is the house’s goldfish, who sits on their mantle in what used to be a five-liter bottle of wine. “Colby Jack” has become a mascot of sorts for the quartet, enough for Averill to prominently display a picture of Colby Jack in his Twitter header.
Remarkably, the goldfish has stayed alive for almost eight months, and celebrated its half-birthday not long ago.
Andrew LaBell, a senior accounting and finance double major, who also lives with Averill and Scharf, and spoke of how much he appreciates his living experience.
“You’re so close to all your best friends, and you have a lot of classes, but you also have a lot of time to do things with them,” LaBell said. “When you’re out there doing your own thing, you kind of miss out on some of those friendships.”
Averill, Scharf, LaBell and the house’s fourth resident all plan to stay in the Indianapolis area following graduation, with hopes of continuing their close friendships.
Darby DeFord: Metro Diner’s Demise
Darby DeFord is a 2019 graduate of Butler University with a degree in biology and chemistry. During her time living in her senior house, which was located across the street from Metro Diner, DeFord was right in the midst of several key university events. Today DeFord lives in her own apartment in Carmel.
“It was a really good location,” DeFord said. “There was always a lot more going on, being right there when basketball games were over and when tours were going by and on homecoming.”
DeFord lived in a house with seven other roommates, which made for lots of confusion when renters lost keys. But overall, DeFord most remembers when people would come over to just hang out.
“There was a lot of space there for people who wanted to come over and watch basketball games or just get ready for a night out,” DeFord said. “So many people lived there and a lot of different groups of friends would be around. But of course, that was all before COVID.”
DeFord was also a tour guide during her senior year and often pointed out her house on tours with prospective students. She said that talking about her house was often an easy segue into a discussion about campus housing.
With such a prime off-campus location, DeFord’s house was also well-positioned to witness the deconstruction of Metro Diner that fateful night in March 2019. DeFord remembered “how crazy it was” seeing the diner’s sign taken down and getting that information firsthand.
“I do miss it,” DeFord said. “The people who lived there, I had lived with them since sophomore year. It was growing up together and being in a big environment with people that I was close to. I definitely miss the camaraderie of it.”