To the little college on Royal Parade,
It was love at first sight. Whenever I’m asked the (inevitable) “So, ah…why Whitley?” I always feel like I should start with a disclaimer: I’m not actually being paid to say this, it just sounds like it. Because truly, Whitley College, there was never anywhere else for me.
Oh, I’d been looking around, and there were others on my mind, I won’t lie. But when I stepped through your doors on Open Day, that was it. I don’t know whether it was the sudden calm of the courtyard, the intriguingly circular building, or the doughnuts pressed into my hands, but I knew immediately that you would be home.
I was shown the dining hall, not knowing then how many hours of my life that would soon be spent there. Whether I was wearing my Hall gown living my Harry-Potter-Brideshead dreams, or in a costume definitely made with no budget or time, and possibly rescued from a bin in the minutes pre-party, I’d be there. I like to think the daily crossword battles and table-long SuperQuizzes were educational, but we both know they were nothing but glorious procrastination.
Speaking of procrastination, I really should never have been shown the Jace. Or JCR if we’re being formal, but really, after all we’ve been through I think we can leave formalities well aside. Now might be a good opportunity for me to apologise to everyone I caused to stay well past any decent hour when we should all have been studying.
Then to the SCR, which would be the site of arguably Whitley’s (definitely not my) classiest night, Wine and Cheese Night, as well as the single greatest defeat I have ever suffered on the Cluedo board. When they tell you college isn’t all fun, I assume this is what they’re referring to. Of course, none of us knew that not quite two years later we’d be sitting in the SCR, silent in our miserable disbelief, after hearing that Whitley was to close. That’s one night I’ll never forget – and not for the right reasons.
What I wasn’t shown were the people. My people. The friends I’d meet who would go on to be my dancing partners, my gig guides, my post-night-out nurses, my study buddies, my rocks. The people I would never be the person I am today without. The friends I made at Whitley were by my side for all the best memories of my time at uni, and they were there for me during the worst times. They still are. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have lived in a place so full of goodness, support, and love.
From the very first day after O Week ended, when I was invited to brunch on Sydney Road (quite to my surprise, and ruining my plans of sitting alone in my room indefinitely), I was embraced by the Whitley community. Most importantly of all, I was embraced for who I am. I’m a quiet, daggy country kid, who’s not always the best on ground but who always has a go. A kid like you, Whitley.
With love, thanks, and a mug of the finest boxed wine,
Whitley College Resident 2013-2014