My office is on the thirteenth floor of an eighteen-story concrete tower that sits in the heart of campus. The building is so massively disproportionate to other buildings that it looms over the entire campus. Inside, the hallways are long and narrow, with no windows or natural light. A bank of six large elevators takes up the center space of each floor. Perhaps it is not surprising that this office tower has become the source of campus lore and legends among students and faculty. During my first semester on campus, a student asked if I knew the history of my office tower. “It was designed like a prison so that students in the 1960s wouldn’t cause riots,” he said with great earnestness. “Do you believe that story?” I asked. “Sure,” he replied. “Just look at it.”

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Published by College English, v. 78, no. 2, p. 117-138.

Copyright 2015 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission.