Residents share experiences living in rooms inhabited by famous people

Let’s face it — the dorms can be a little dreary. By the time second semester rolls around, the newness of having your own space has worn off and the annoyance of sharing a bathroom with dozens of other people has set in. However, there’s something about the University’s dorms that most people don’t realize — those same dorms that now house your friends, once housed some pretty famous people.

In fact, it’s pretty easy to identify dorm rooms that were once occupied by a prominent person. Above the room number, there’s a small plaque that states the person’s name and what makes them notable. These plaques are easily missable, but if you’re able to spot them out, it’ll surprise you to see what famous people were students of the University.

To name a few, the creator of YouTube, an astronaut and the creator of the first web browser all lived in the University’s dorms. Jenny Zapinski, freshman in LAS, and her twin sister Catie Zapinski, freshman in DGS, currently live in Forbes Hall and occupy the same room that Astronaut Steven Nagel once lived in.

“Whenever people would walk by, they would be like ‘oh, that’s the astronaut room!,’” Catie said. “And people called it that for the first few weeks.”

However, living in a so called “famous” room for a length of time can cause students to forget the prominence of the people that lived there before them.

“To be honest, I actually forgot that I lived in the YouTube room until you reminded me with this interview,” said Lee Weir, freshman in LAS.

Weir and his roommate, Danny O’Brien, freshman in Engineering, live in Allen Hall in the same room that Jawed Karim, the co-founder of YouTube, lived in. However, even though living in the same room as a famous person doesn’t affect them too much, they wouldn’t be willing to part with their room.

“Given the choice between this room or another one, I’d choose this room because I just think it’s pretty interesting and I didn’t even know that he went to this school before living here,” Weir said.

Besides getting attention from other students for the plaque on their door, Catie and Jenny Zapinski also got outside recognition.

“We actually got an email from the Big Ten network about famous people living in the dorms so they asked us about it,” Catie said. “It was cool to just say that we live in a room where someone famous lived.”

For these students, occupying the same room as some very intelligent people doesn’t mean that they feel the need to try any harder in their every day life.

“Being the creator of YouTube is a pretty big deal, I don’t think I’ll ever live up to it,” O’Brien said.

Ultimately, these “famous plaques” add a little something to the dorms and help students remember that they can do great things if they put their minds to it — you don’t have to be a Harvard grad to achieve great things.