The new res­i­dents of the classic “Don­ny­brook.” | Courtesy Emma Cummins

Under the glow of $4 Christmas lights hung by nails found in the lawn, nine young men recline in chairs scav­enged from campus. Passing by, you’ll hear any music from Alicia Keys to Dropkick Murphys to XXXTentacion. 

After con­struction in Gal­loway Res­i­dence dis­placed the men who lived on the dorm’s fourth floor, the college gave them the oppor­tunity to stay in a college-owned house at 62 Park Street. 

Affec­tion­ately called “the Don­ny­brook” by stu­dents of the college in past years, the house used to be an off-campus hub with Friday night “poetry readings,” usually accom­panied by Irish drinking songs, ballads, blue­grass, and country music. 

As reported in The Col­legian in 2016 by Micah Mead­ow­croft, the Don­ny­brook has always been a place of fel­lowship.

“According to Forester Mc Clatchey ’16, the Don­ny­brook was con­sidered ‘the epi­center of lit­erary culture on campus.’” The house’s res­i­dents orga­nized readings of their favorite poems by the poets them­selves when they visited campus. 

Daniel Spiotta ’13, con­sidered the pioneer in cre­ating the Don­ny­brook culture, described his own expe­rience in car­rying on tra­dition. 

“There was a group of nine guys that lived there before and they were good guys — faithful, manly men,” said Spiotta, who for many current upper­classmen defined the Don­ny­brook and campus lit­erary culture. “I really loved them and wanted to keep a lot of their tra­di­tions alive. The song tra­dition, the tra­dition of singing folk songs together in a big group, that was the biggest thing we inherited.”

The Don­ny­brook, for many, was a place of broth­erhood and lit­er­ature. Spiotta describes it as “folk culture.” 

Rather than the house pro­viding spirit to the people, it was the people them­selves who gave life to such a love for poetry and fel­lowship.  

Many who lived in Don­ny­brook worried that the culture would fade as people grad­uated. Josh Rice ’14 didn’t find that to be a problem, when describing the house in the 2016 Col­legian article. 

“The fact is that ‘the Don­ny­brook’ as a term has really come to sym­bolize some­thing bigger than itself, which is good,” Rice said. “As a term it has always been some­thing bigger than itself.”

With such a legacy behind them, the current members of the Don­ny­brook still value broth­erhood, even if that broth­erhood finds its place in dif­ferent activ­ities and people. The new members consist of three juniors and six sopho­mores, all res­i­dents of Gal­loway last year. 

Head Res­ident Assistant and junior Ethan Visser orga­nized a weekly Bible study on Thursday nights. According to Visser, the nights are an invaluable oppor­tunity for the men of the house. 

“As a group of friends living together we have a big oppor­tunity to better each other and grow closer as a group,” Visser said. “It’s an exciting thing to be able to study God’s word together and grow in our faith as well as grow in our rela­tion­ships with each other. I love these guys and to be able to do this together with them is hum­bling.” 

Amidst the minutiae of each day, the culture that the house cul­ti­vates seeks to create a deeper unity and bond. 

“Small group is a time of putting aside the day to day inter­ac­tions, the ‘bro culture’ stuff,” sophomore Ben Jagoda said. “There’s been a lot of time for heart-to-heart inter­ac­tions and talking through our struggles, our problems, and many aspects of our life.” 

The members of the house can easily spend hours in the living room lis­tening to new music one of them dis­covered, or having long con­ver­sa­tions, encour­aging each other to grow in char­acter. 

“Being vul­nerable and being con­nected with one another really improves the dynamic of the house and how you interact with one another on a daily basis,” sophomore Gabriel Kramer said. “We’ve already started to chal­lenge each other to lead more moral lives.” 

The group, however, finds time to make almost nightly runs to Subway and McDonalds, watch Vines on end, and crack jokes every chance they get. 

“We’re a slew of cowboys,” sophomore Henry Eising said. “You sit around, you make jokes, you watch the world go by.”

This “happy go-lucky group,” as Eising calls it, tries to find a balance between the chal­lenge of growing as men and enjoying the lighter moments of life, described in one word: 

“Ram­bunc­tious,” Visser said. “We are pretty wild and loud. The other floors did a lot of stuff together [in Gal­loway] but we were mostly just loud.” 

While the men of Don­ny­brook change over time, the zeit­geist of the house remains intact through the fel­lowship that each group has brought with it.

“Even outside of small group, as humans, we need a good amount of emo­tional inter­action and deep bonding with other people,” sophomore Cal Abbo said. “The men that live here, I can’t put into the words how much I love them.” 

  • Jen­nifer Melfi