Residence hall trunk rooms provide treasures

By Kelsie Smith | September 5, 2016 1:34am


The basement of each University of Portland residence hall holds a trunk room filled with students' storage items.

by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

Whether bright or dull, cramped or spacious, each resident hall’s trunk room has more things in common than not.

Mini-fridges are a prime example. Collectively, mini-fridges reign as the most commonly “forgotten” item in trunk rooms. Are they actually forgotten? Or maybe students leave their unwanted items in the basement as an easy way out.

Trunk rooms are designed to hold residents’ personal items in storage over extended periods of time like Summer Break. Residents’ forgetfulness (or perhaps laziness) tends to become a problem and forgotten items start to build up in storage. Numerous bits and pieces are left in the trunk rooms after break has broke.

Former Mehling Hall Director, Gina Loshiavo, said that some items have been left in the basement for so long, she finds herself thinking, “How in the world is that still here?!”

This is a common reaction among Hall Directors and Resident Assistants in the dorms. Countless mini-fridges and grungy couches litter the floor and bunkers.

Some items are more exciting than others. Buried in the old suitcases and school supplies, one could find the full Harry Potter film series on DVD and a pop-art painting of President George Washington.

What happens when the term is over and these “treasures” are still in the basements?

Just as each hall has their own brand, they also have their own style of de-trunking. For example, Loshiavo reminds her residents through email to pick up their belongings. After multiple attempts to empty the trunk room, the fridges left over are donated to faculty and staff, and the bins of clothing usually go to Goodwill.

Former Kenna RA McKenzie Strickland said the process of cleaning and donating works similarly in Kenna. But it isn’t quite as easy-going as a simple email reminder.

“We track people down,” Strickland said. “We don’t have too much to carry over.”

Then there is Villa Maria Hall, who has an annual Couch Auction at the beginning of the semester.

Current RA, Sean Curtis, said that the money made from the couch auction goes to Villa’s Kiva account, an account where Villa pools their money from fundraisers. The money collected helps to pay for animals to be given to people living in low-income agricultural areas.

Curtis said that between six and 10 couches were auctioned this year, raising over $150. Another current RA, Sam Stucki, said that couches went for as much as $80.

While residents continue filling the storage rooms with their miscellaneous belongings, sometimes RA’s have a chance to leave their mark as well. In Corrado, RA Kellin Carraher said that the staff leaves their own signature-of-sorts on the walls.

“A lot of staff have left behind their handprints,” said Carraher. “Two years ago we left behind our footprints on the ceiling...So when you walk in, the walls are painted with each staff of Corrado since the time it was built.”

In the Christie Hall basement, the trunk room is home to a lamp larger than current Hall Director Nathan Widdicombe and a life-sized painting of President George Washington that he described as “bizarre” and “super strange.”

Adding to the surreal nature of the room, “REALITY IS THE ONLY ILLUSION,” is written in broken blue painter’s tape on the floor.

“I think someone wrote out ‘The Chamber of Secrets is open’ down here too,” Widdicombe added.

While the rooms are home to old couches and parseltongue inscriptions, Joe Burke, four-year former Christie Hall Director and current Schoenfeldt Hall Director, feels that the trunk room is a symbol of community. UP students have four years to relish in being cramped in a hall with hundreds of other like-minded individuals. Knowing you can leave your junk behind when you check out for a little while makes the crowded space feel like your space.

“We’re part of a family,” Burke said.

And families clean up each other’s messes.