By Katelyn Jacobson
Campus News Reporter
Up the road to North Remote and deep in the reaches above Kresge College nests the cheapest, most creative, and perhaps the most misunderstood housing complex on campus. Entering is like going to a foreign country, an adventure. Leaving is like waking up from a dream.
But most trailer park rumors floating around lower campus are less than positive. The “Parkies” are the subject of prolific stereotyping, with other less-than-flattering words rotated in and out for good measure.
Trailers run between $428 and $478 a month, a figure that student coordinator Shannon Sealey says might contribute to the park’s labels.
“In any kind of economic situation that has class levels, lower-income housing really has negative associations,” Sealey said. “With this community I feel people say sometimes that we’re slackers, or dirty hippies or that whole thing.”
Being outdoorsy, Sealey said, is the only prerequisite, and seeing as the forest is the park’s closest neighbor, it’s easy to understand why being a little rough-and-ready is a virtue here.
During a walk through the park, Sealey cornered a guitar-strumming resident for an interview. Theodore Schickenberg is a hip-hop lyricist and language studies major.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘You can’t go up there because they only like their own type,’ and that’s a lot of bullshit,” Schickenberg said. “I don’t feel there’s one type of person that could explain the park other than down-to-earth, in the sense that everyone is pretty accepting of each other and whatever path of life we’re walking on.”
Regardless of stereotypes, or maybe because of them, the park has a waitlist of 60 students.
For Sealey the camper park is a mirror of the entire campus, she said.
“It’s definitely affordable housing,” Schickenberg said. “Even though … it seems like a poor environment to live in.”
But poor is a relative term. The park may have the richest color scheme on campus, and when it comes to community, it’s got everyone beat.
Potlucks and unplanned dance parties pepper the lives of Parkies, and it may be difficult to find another group on campus that so completely embodies caring through sharing.
“You learn not to get attached to stuff,” said third-year biology major Brianna Smith, taking a break from her organic chemistry homework to speak with City on a Hill Press. “I mean, I’ll find cool clothes and wear them for a while, and then let them go, and I’ll see someone else wearing them the next week.”
Around a table covered with homegrown food and a value-size bottle of Bragg’s, Schickenberg got back to the basics of stereotyping.
He concluded that when people who do not really understand something latch on to rumors instead of investigating the information for themselves.
“I think the park is this mystical mystery,” Schickenberg said. “No one thinks it really exists, but no one comes to check it out and when they do they’re blown away.”