On the white, flaking walls of Galloway Residence, students have added their own personal touches to the dorm they call home. Murals depict George Washington crossing the Delaware in blue and black silhouette, inspiring quotations from the pope or “The Office,” and even Muhammad Ali standing over a defeated opponent.
Painted by residents past and present, murals cover the walls of every hall in the men’s residence. Any resident of Galloway can paint a mural, and as renovations to the 58-year-old dorm approach within the year, students are rushing to mark up soon-to-be-repainted walls.
The best known mural of Galloway adorns the wall of the second floor landing: the Hillsdale College Honor Code, signed by hundreds of Galloway residents.
“We want the Honor Code wall to be prominent to serve as an anchor for the dorm,” head resident assistant senior Dustin Pletan said. In the evening after convocation, all the new freshman in the dorm go to the mural and sign their names, Pletan said.
“The Honor Code wall is touching because it embodies the legacy that has been thrust on the residents of Galloway,” sophomore Rowan Macwan said. “The wall means so much more to me now than they did my first night here. Seeing so many of the names of upperclassmen and alumni makes me appreciate being in this dorm all the more.”
To Pletan, the other murals of the dorms are rooted in the Honor Code mural.
“The Ricky Bobby mural about how if you’re not first, you’re last, takes the idea of honor and excellence and interprets it in an imaginative way,” Pletan said. “As residents think of new murals, The Galloway ideal of the Honor Code and being gentlemen, scholars, and heroes gives them inspiration.”
“I’d add a mural of William Wallace,” sophomore Joe Wellemeyer said. “He’s the epitome of what Galloway represents: a gentleman, a scholar, and a hero with a bloody sword and blue paint and yelling.”
“I’d add a dope picture of Churchill staring off into the distance with a cigar in his mouth, all in black and white,” sophomore Christian Betz said.
Freshman Paul Kerrigan agreed: “Give him a big cigar.”
Galloway does not have a set process for putting up murals, Pletan said.
“Putting up murals isn’t a plan of the RAs. It’s ideas of our community made incarnate in technicolor on our walls,” Pletan said.
Macwan has put a few ideas of his own on the walls of Galloway, including a mural depicting a large tree on a tall hill and a small tree on a narrow hill, separated by a bottomless ravine with only a small bridge across. Several birds fly near the leafy branches of the larger tree.
“With the tree mural, I wanted to show there’s a gap between where we are and where we’re headed and that we need help to get there,” Macwan said.
Residents of Galloway say that the murals inspire them and give them a sense of community.
“The mural about how the good is the enemy of the great inspires greatness in men,” freshman Reed Lawe said. The murals, whether it’s the RA mural, baseball team mural, or the Honor Code mural, show how the dorm has been passed down, Lawe said.
As the date for renovations to Galloway’s rooms and halls approaches, Galloway residents have mixed feelings.
“The murals are a good way of saying goodbye before the renovation,” Wellemeyer said. Another resident thought the renovations would enhance the artistic significance of the murals.
“They’re a good representation of human life because you put them up, and then they’ll be destroyed and no one will remember them,” freshman Trevor Vogel said.
Residents appreciate the murals while they remain.
“They add a lot of flavor to the dorm and make it more homey and less like a bunker,” said Kerrigan.