Welcome to the floor of Grant 4A

Casey Toner

Beat reporting depends on the relationships and knowledge derived from covering a single topic extensively.

As an experiment in journalism, we decided to bring that concept to the residence halls. Instead of government, we will focus on ordinary people like you and me.

I plan to chronicle their lives and college experiences: the highs and lows, parties and all-nighters, cafeteria food and freshman 15.

Their stories should prove insightful and strangely familiar, if not unique and subversively refreshing.

The cast:

Rick Lighthall, a sophomore meteorology major, has lived on the fourth floor for almost two years. Lighthall developed several friendships last year, and Lugo brought him back for more tomfoolery.

The blond, five-and-a-half-foot-plus student has something in common with everyone else guilty of a cumulative GPA below 2.0: academic probation.

He has one last chance to prove himself – or face expulsion. But with grade-burners like calculus and physics waiting in the wings, who knows his future?

Missy Lugo, a residence hall community adviser, has returned to her role as Grant Tower North Floor 4A CA for a second year.

Last year, she found her floor relatively dependent upon her as a leader and a friend. This fall, she finds her floor works more independently; they keep to and support themselves.

Although the semester is new, Lugo discovered closed doors to be a real barrier to the open communication she encourages. The powers that be installed new doors; they automatically close to comply with fire codes. To jump-start conversation, her residents will frequently prop open door hinges with whatever objects they can find.

Like with all incoming freshmen, they have to make-do with what they have – friends, grades, food and fun. Then they have to make it work.

Cara Zamora, a freshman special education major, has found her college experience refreshing – a place to cleanse the slate she scrawled upon during her tenure at Joliet West High School.

A trumpet player for NIU’s marching band, Zamora moved in early to practice. Every morning, she must wake up, warm up, bake under the sun and blow her jarring Bach Strad trumpet as if she were the marching band reincarnation of Miles Davis.

“I love it,” said Zamora. “It’s nothing like high school. Everyone was stuck up, and everyone is so much more relaxed here. No one cares who you were and where you came from.”

Jesus Raya, a freshman undecided major, was happy to get out of his parents’ house and onto Floor 4A. Raya will spend this weekend in DeKalb, most likely at Corn Fest – just anything to remove him from the sleep-shattering sounds of busy cars outside his scenic view of an NIU physical plant.

Sarah Trilling, a freshman elementary education major, and sophomore accounting major Jollene Wick, live together in room 403. Wick is a fourth floor veteran; Trilling, a rookie.

So far, they have bonded. Wick has shown Trilling where her classes are, and they both went shopping for essential survival supplies like ramen noodles and lava lamps together.

Trilling has a boyfriend from home; Wick has a boyfriend from California.

The duo make all new visitors sign a posterboard in a highlighter pen. If you flip on a blacklight, you can see all of their visitors in bright yellow neon.

In the lower left-hand corner, it reads:

CASEY M. TONER.