Meet Elder Residential Community’s best-kept secret (and no, we’re not talking about the network of tunnels that leads directly to Norris): Henry Smith, son of RTVF professors Jacob and Freda Love Smith and the dorm’s youngest resident. Although he might look like a regular Northwestern student, Henry occupies a strange limbo on campus. He shoots pool in our game rooms, sits in on our fireside chats and, astonishingly, eats in our dining halls. We sat down with the Evanston Township High School senior and talked to him about living with his parents in the same place where many Northwestern students live without parents for the first time.
NBN: OK, so to start off with, can I get your name and age and everything?
Henry Smith: Okay sure, my name is Henry Smith, I’m 17–
NBN: Someone told me you were 14.
HS: Well, I was three years ago when I moved here.
NBN: OK, that makes more sense. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
HS: Sure. I do debate at ETHS, and I make music with my friends.
NBN: Ooh, what kind of music?
HS: Electronic music, for the most part. My friend plays bass, and it’s kind of like instrumental, funky electronic music.
NBN: Awesome. So you’ve lived here for the past three years. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
HS: It’s cool! By far the nicest place I’ve lived, because it’s super fancy at Northwestern. And you know, the whole it being in a dorm thing is interesting and different, but I’m pretty much used to it by now.
NBN: What would you say is your favorite part of living here?
HS: When the students are gone and I can go into the dorm.
NBN: Oh, yeah?
HS: Yeah, like freshman and sophomore year I had sleepovers a lot of the time over winter break, so we could go hang out in the actual dorm, and it’s pretty awesome.
NBN: That’s cool, I never thought about that.
HS: Yeah, because there’s a pool table and like a big pleasant space, and there’s nobody there.
NBN: How much would you say you interact with the students who live here?
HS: Not that much. I’m a pretty anti-social person. But when I do, it’s great. It’s definitely changed as I’ve gotten old, because when I was a freshman I was obviously a child, so they were probably just wondering who I was and why I was in their dorm. But now, for the most part, they probably think I’m a college student when they see me, so that’s kind of a different vibe.
NBN: Do you have any crazy stories?
HS: My parents have events here, right, all the time, and there’s lots of students here so it’s funny to see students’ reactions to me in different situations. There was an event here a few days ago, and I came in through the front door because I was out with friends or something and got a Klondike bar out of the freezer that I knew was there, because this is my house and I know what we have in our freezer. And there were a few students who saw me and assumed I was just another student, and then I heard them freaking out as I was walking away like, “Oh my god, he just stole that from them, how did he even know that that was there?”
NBN: That’s funny. What else is something you think people wouldn’t expect about living in a dorm?
HS: I’d say the advantage of when all of the students are gone is big. The fire alarms are pretty terrible, especially in the winter in the middle of the night… You’ve experienced that, right?
NBN: Oh yeah, not good. Do you – you don’t eat the food, do you?
HS: Yeah, actually, lots of weekdays I go down there for dinner. It’s cool.
NBN: Do you have access to all the dining halls? Which one is your favorite?
HS: I’ve only ever been to here and Sargent. Sargent is usually better. But it’s been better this year in general, so that’s exciting.
NBN: Do you have any advice you could give someone about dorm living, now that you’ve got a one-up?
HS: Hmm. I don’t know. I’ve definitely had a weird, unique experience that isn’t exactly applicable to a normal person living in a dorm.
NBN: Yeah, your real dorm probably won’t be this nice. Is there anything else you think I should know?
HS: I’ve kind of said everything I was thinking I could say.