Dorm Room Journalism Emerges
November 20, 2017
In the halls of Brittany Residence Hall on Halloween night, the residents of suite 202 are mulling over the expansion of their newsletter, the ‘02 Tribune, which is delivered weekly every Tuesday to residents of rooms in a handful of NYU dorms that end in “02.”
Steinhardt freshman Benjamin Florence, an ‘02 Tribune staff writer, dressed in a Shaggy Rogers costume as he interviews me about interviewing them for the next week’s edition of the paper. CAS freshman Nicolas Brunstein, another staff writer, is explaining the background behind the unusual student concoction, as we await the rest of the 202 team.
“We take messing around very seriously,” Brunstein said.
The ‘02 Tribune — the brainchild of the residents of Britanny suite 202 — is an elaborate yet authentic attempt by five freshmen to tap into the classic tradition of college irony.
Every Tuesday night, a newsletter filled with articles that cover the frivolities of college life coupled with writing that purposely takes itself too seriously for comedic effect is hand-delivered to almost every other ‘02 room in Brittany.
The newsletter recently expanded to the 202 rooms of other freshman dorms, including Lipton Residence Hall and Goddard Residence Hall. Unfortunately, Weinstein Residence Hall has no 202, as reported in an article written by Steinhardt freshman and Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Oldfield. The article states that the ‘02 Tribune’s investigative journalism team is doing a follow-up. The team currently has its sights set on delivering to Founders Residence Hall, University Residence Hall and Third Avenue North Residence Hall.
Articles printed in the newsletter range from “Room 202 Hosts Wrestling Tourney” to “Bops vs. Bangers: Redux.”
“I would say 90 percent of [the articles] actually happened,” Brunstein said. “We just add our own little jokes into it.”
Brunstein added that the rest of what they choose to write about for each edition is usually complete nonsense.
The origin story of the ‘02 Tribune is as peculiar and absurd as the newsletter itself. A jumbled tale, recounted by the newsletter’s creators, explains that the idea came from a stomping feud between Brittany’s 202 and 302 suites. Oldfield said that after the one-sided battle between the suites, the 202 residents decided they wanted to meet the residents of all the rooms that end with “02.”
“[Brunstein] jokingly mentioned, oh yeah, we’re going to send out a newsletter,” Oldfield said.
On Monday, Oct. 2, the ‘02 Tribune was born. According to Oldfield, the team wrote the first newsletter between 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. that night.
The team, made up of Oldfield, Brunstein, Florence, Tisch freshman Samuel Slocum and CAS freshman Joshua Ellis-Einhorn, writes weekly news articles, an advice column, a crossword, comics, classifieds, a Home and Garden section and poetry. The Tribune also features fake obituaries and guest writers who occasionally contribute to the newsletter. The first-year students hope to continue writing new editions for the rest of the year.
“It takes up, like, a couple hours Monday night, and that’s it,” Slocum said. “It’s fun. We all get a massive ego boost out of it.”
After increased demand, the newsletter is undergoing expansion. It now has a website, and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts so that residents from non-‘02 rooms can also view the content.
Slocum said that the ‘02 Tribune has helped the 202 suitemates remain close to each other.
“We always say how surprised we are when we talk to other people about how much they don’t even talk to their roommates,” Slocum said. “All of us get along very well, and all of us obviously can work together in a pretty productive way.”
The project also allows the roommates to connect with the NYU community.
“You meet new people, and it’s a funny way to do it,” Slocum said.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 20 print edition. Email Jendayi Omowale at [email protected]