On the fair Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut, an epic battle is being waged. Two alumni seek justice for their respective former residences and vie for the title of best dorm. For the past few years, this battle has played out across countless letters to the editor of this very newspaper. Now, however, the battle intensifies, with Towers trooper Sean Rose (class of 2009) using his latest letter to the editor to ask West warrior Stephen Winchell (class of 2008) if he seeks a war.
“You want a war? You’ve got one,” Rose said in his letter.
Before this conflict escalates any more, though, Rose and Winchell gave the Daily Campus a look at how this dorm dispute came to drive a wedge between them and maintain their friendship.
Long before Rose or Winchell wrote to the editor about the superiority of Towers or West, the two were just normal UConn students, participating in many different clubs and even working for the Daily Campus. Rose and Winchell met through Dramatic PAWS and were in a few plays together. They connected over their similar senses of humor and eventually helped to establish the now-defunct Agents of Improv. In 2007, Rose, Winchell and some friends created Wilhelm Comedy, a sketch comedy group that performed live shows and made some videos for UCTV in the fall of 2008, after which the group was no longer active. Both Winchell and Rose were also Daily Campus staff members, and Winchell even became the editor of the comics page, which the Daily Campus no longer produces. Both he and Rose created comics for this section.
Winchell and Rose’s letters to the editor began only a few years ago, although the two have different memories of how, exactly, it started.
“A few years ago we were visiting campus and Sean started mouthing off about how crummy West was,” Winchell said. “I couldn’t believe it. Here we were, years after we graduated, and this nonsense was still happening? I stood up for West, and we argued the whole visit. When I got back home I immediately wrote my first letter.”
According to Rose, however, Winchell needed to release pent-up anger at his being stuck in lousy housing during his undergraduate years.
“From what I can guess, the memories of living in a trashy, gross dorm with no dining hall and no grab ‘n’ go hardened the man’s heart over the years, and he felt the need to take it out on the wonderful students of Towers,” Rose said.
In fact, Rose sees no reason why Winchell cannot admit defeat in this quarrel over living quarters.
“Everyone knows that Towers is a much, much better dorm than West, including Steve himself,” Rose said. “The man is deluding himself, and he’s trying to prove something that we all know just isn’t true. It’s sad, really.”
Yet Winchell persists. Being from West, he says, has instilled perseverance and determination in him. He looks forward to the day when Rose and Towers give up their illusions of grandeur.
“These letters are just the beginning of a story, a story that ends with West residents marching through the Towers quad, heads held high,” said Winchell. “Someone will plant a West flag in front of Gelfenbien Commons. Perhaps ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen is playing.”
While the two can be rather verbose in their letters, they can also give a quick take on why their respective residences are better. When asked to explain their own dorm’s superiority in five or less words, Winchell said of West, “we’re real, they’re make believe”; Rose commented, “off The Eaten Path? Unbeatable!”
All dorm alliances aside though, the two truly do enjoy their correspondence and value the time they spent at UConn.
“Beyond the occasional satisfaction I get from making Mr. Winchell look like a clown, honestly, it’s nice to look back on my time living in Towers my sophomore year of college, which was easily my favorite year there,” Rose said.
“I never expected to love UConn this much,” Winchell said. “Something about that place just gets into your heart and never goes away. UConn is very, very dear to me and it’s a small honor every day to wake up knowing I’m a Husky.”
Both Winchell and Rose now live in Chicago, creating comics and doing comedy. Their friendly rivalry will continue, though they do each hope that the other concedes to them and that they can one day forget about this animosity.
“Once he (Winchell) does this (admits that Towers is better), I hope we can figure out a way [to] put this behind us by bulldozing West. Just get rid of it. Trash hole. Who needs it?” said Rose.
Winchell similarly hopes to see the demise of Towers: “I try to forget Towers. What a blight. Yuck,” said Winchell.
Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.