Ross Hall, Butler’s oldest residence hall (circa-1954), was first referred to as the Men’s Residence Hall and later named after Butler’s 19th president, M.O. Ross. The hall witnessed just under 70 years of move-ins, move-outs, and first-years finding their way (in addition to many early morning fire alarms and stolen exit signs). And while Ross no longer serves as a residence hall, the memories made at 629 W. Hampton Drive will live on in the proud hearts of past residents forever.
Memories like a 20-foot boa constrictor slithering around the basement and rag-tag student leadership campaigns resulting in victories remain fresh in the minds of impassioned alumni.
Cynthia Payne ’05 was an RA in Ross from fall 2002 through spring 2005. During her senior year, Payne volunteered to run for Homecoming royalty as she was one of the only upperclass students residing in the mostly first-year residence hall. Her unit, Unit 14, rallied together to ensure her win.
“There was a representative from a sorority who had these silk screen–printed t-shirts, but my girls and I just bought white t-shirts from Meijer and decorated them with Sharpies. They stayed up all night making them …and I firmly believe they were the reason I won,” Payne says. “I think that it’s pretty rare to have a Homecoming queen from Ross, but that was a really special moment and something that I’ll never forget because it was the girls in my unit who made it happen.”
Plenty of shenanigans took place at Ross, too. There was bowling in the mile-long hallways, gift wrap covering every possible inch of hallways during the holidays, and steaks grilled on the roof days before graduation.
Craig Helmreich ’97 recounts the story of what inspired him to run for Freshman Class President. “I saw people putting up posters to run for Class President one day, so I decided to run against them and won. Maybe one of the reasons I won was because of the campaign posters I used,” Helmreich says. “Ross was one of those places where you could get a crazy idea like running for student government and execute it in like two hours.” [Editor’s note: Perhaps our readers who were on campus for that election season may remember the Helmreich campaign poster. We’ll let that memory live on with you.]
Adam Kegley ’09 was a Ross RA in 2006–2007 and 2007–2008. One of his fondest memories took place on a night when some fellow RAs from Ross and Schwitzer decided to go outside and play like kids—during a severe thunderstorm. “I don’t know why we thought it would be a good idea to go outside and play in the rain … It turned into an all-out mud fight, and we got soaked and drenched in mud,” Kegley says.
Although Ross was home to a fair share of tomfoolery, the communal living style meant there was no escaping the possibility of connection and budding friendship. In many cases, Ross Love turned into real love, creating life-shaping relationships that long surpassed the academic year.
John Gentry ’80 lived in Ross for all of his years at Butler, since Ross was the only non-Greek student housing on campus at the time. Back then, student organizations like Tri Beta and the Zoo were the lifeblood of the building. Members hosted events like Ross Rat Race and an annual pumpkin sacrifice and competitively participated in other campus events, thrilled when they would be pitted against each other.
“The guys I was there with … we went on to be in each other’s weddings and we still try to get together at Homecomings,” Gentry says. “I graduated 40-some years ago and I’m still in contact with these guys … If it wasn’t for Ross, we wouldn’t have had that connection.”
Former Class President Helmreich says all his friendships from his days at Butler originated in Ross. He even met his wife there.
Kegley shares that through friendships made in Ross—and outside of Ross in the rain—he gained confidence to be unapologetically himself.
“I arrived as a mostly-out gay man at Butler in 2005, but I was still quite nervous about being myself and worried about the last person I would come out to, which was my dad,” Kegley says. “But all of those conversations with the people I met in Ross were ultimately what gave me courage to do so eventually, and I really think my life would be a lot different in that regard if I hadn’t been placed in Ross.
Clearly history was made within Ross’s walls and its legend and impact in the gallery of Butler memories can never be erased.
A Gallery of Mem’ries…
“…Leaving your windows open when it was 20 below outside because the furnace blew so hot.”Allen Cox ’95
“My favorite is the feeling of being home every time I’d walk up those stairs after class or being out. It’d take an extra hour to get back to my room because I’d have to stop to talk to everyone on the way up!”Leslie Tarble ’08
“I get a bit nostalgic whenever I hear ‘Island in the Sun,’ as our friends across the hall would sing and play it on guitars constantly.”Tom Slattery ’06
“The Annual ZOO Pumpkin Sacrifice during Halloween.”Alex Kor ’83
“…Being a night clerk and having to reset the door alarms every time someone was breaking curfew.”Brad Plunkett ’92
“I was Faculty-in-Residence for four years. I remember bringing my daughter home to live in Ross Hall in 2011 and the ice cream cake extravaganza we had for her first birthday.”Professor Christopher Bungard
“It was the place where I learned to live on my own, cope with sharing communal bathrooms, survive Norovirus 2008, and play Rock Band.”Lauren Cavers ’12