CAPS Doorstop Review

Morewood E-Tower isn’t like other dorm buildings. It doesn’t have a pretty little lobby or a cute lounge to walk through on the way in. Like Resnik and West Wing, E-Tower residents have to share their space with other on-campus services: University Health Services (UHS) and Counseling and Psychology Services (CaPS). As a result, the dormitory doesn’t really have a front door, at least not one it doesn’t share with someone else, whether that be UHS, CaPS, or Morewood Gardens. Residents are discouraged from using the most direct entrance, a small room with two elevators and a staircase that leads to all floors of the building, because it's the only entrance for CaPS patrons. The idea is that reserving that entrance for CaPS patrons preserves their anonymity or patient confidentiality.

While absolutely necessary, it has been pointed out that restricting this access point is somewhat unfair to the five remaining floors of residents, who enter and exit the building with much greater frequency and during a wider range of hours. Though I do not endorse it, people use this entrance regardless of the rules. The problem occurs when the door is locked because CaPS is closed, like at night and during the weekends (something that is not a problem for ResEd staff, whose ID cards, unlike those of first year residents, work on this door).

A challenge like this, though, is exactly what Carnegie Mellon students were made for. The admissions process selected us because we are ingenious, creative, and determined, and like it or not, regardless of the safety hazards, E-Tower residents are ready to apply those traits to their daily commute. In a way, the phenomenon that occurs almost daily at E-Tower is a demonstration of the best in us as a student body; residents will wedge the door open with whatever is available, showing both their commitment to efficiency, and their consideration for others who also want to use the door while it’s locked.

The crux of this piece, and my personal entertainment this year, is a list of items I have seen used to keep the Morewood E-Tower CaPS door open during the later hours. I hope it proves not the irresponsibility of E-Tower residents, but the sheer joy to be found in the smallest places on campus for anyone who is willing to look.

E-Tower Health Center Door Stoppers:
The Mask
In a stroke of sheer ingenuity, someone slipped a black paper mask right in the space where the door’s lock slides into place, stopping it from reaching the other side of the lock. Though this method required some maintenance by door users to keep the mask in the right spot, it was subtle enough to make the door seem closed and locked to anyone who walked past without looking too hard. Also, it was kind of a sign of the times. 7/10

The Cardboard
All I remember is that it was enormous. It was probably very near move-in time, when cardboard boxes were plentiful, and someone ripped one apart and slid it in the door. It was a very large piece of cardboard. It did the job. 5/10

The Door Itself
My absolute favorite. I hope my visual description of this doorstop will do it justice. The ID scanner next to the door must have been a little loose from its backing such that it could be rotated without coming off the door frame. The scanner was rotated about 40 degrees so that its corner intercepted the door before it could reach the end of its journey into the frame. It was poetic. It was ironic. It was just a little bit dangerous. 10/10

The Pebble
Extremely subtle. I’m not sure where the pebble came from, but its placement was so precise, it could only have been done by someone who cared a lot. The pebble took advantage of a tiny divet in the concrete before the door’s threshold and caught the bottom of the door by the very skin of its teeth. Surprising and endearing. 8/10
Note: I was informed that there was also a larger rock involved in this list at some point during the year, but the pebble was simply so superior and the rock so uncouth and questionable (where did it even come from?), that I felt that it was unnecessary to include in this list.

The Screw
Similar to the Pebble/Rock situation in its mystery and size, the screw reliably did the job it was tasked with, with no pomp or circumstance. 3/10

The Ice
Another sign of the times, but with a concerning lack of foresight. Though all the aforementioned stops were temporary, this one was the most. It was never meant to last, especially with the radiators running in the entrance. I almost pitied it, a medium-sized chunk of snow drafted for no apparent reason from amongst its brothers, unwillingly sacrificing itself to the pressure of the door and the heat of the indoor human world. 6/10

The Bottles
Self-explanatory and vaguely squished, the parade of bottles that included those having previously held water, Sprite, and mango smoothie, served time as grotesque doorstops, a kind of harbinger to the 3 a.m. returner. Hopefully they got recycled. 5/10

The Chair
Last but most certainly not least: the Chair. The Chair was a month-long saga in which one brave resident brought a dorm desk chair all the way down from their room and sacrificed it for the good of all. At first it was the whole thing, but as time passed, screws were removed and wood was splintered apart, resulting in smaller and smaller bits of wood remaining. It was hard to watch, but the effort put in by the Chair and its owner was evident to anyone who could identify the mangled pieces as former legs. 9/10

At the very summit of this list, and far too great to be mentioned as part of it, is a concept only E-Tower residents might recognize: the fraction of an inch by which the door stays open when the lock has stopped working, which happens from time to time. It’s something that can only be seen with the finely-trained eye, the eye that searches the door from feet away on a cold, dark night, just hoping for, almost hallucinating, that single centimeter of an edge on the door. For me, it’s a hallmark of my acclimation to residential life at Carnegie Mellon, and Carnegie Mellon’s wholehearted, arms-wide-open acceptance of me.