by Lauren Stark ’21
*An Update to The Gunn Barricade*
Just four weeks ago, the once green grasses of the Frederick Gunn School’s quad turned to battlefields. Faultless citizens of the community were forced to walk around campus in constant fear. At the time, publishing “The Gunn Barricade” was dangerous, but it was a muckraker’s duty to give the FGS community the truth. Now the question remains: was it worth it?
The article gained traction when circulated and reposted by a well-known resident of the Gunn dorm. He spoke for the dorm with the urge to acquire a fourth tent to secure their power against all push back. They succeeded, going to our youngest boys’ dorm with a warrant to obtain their tent, and out of fear, the boys willingly obliged.
However, situations quickly escalated. Just two days after the article’s publishing, the cease of Gunn Dorm began. It all started on the Friday of April 30th, with an all-school message from a prefect-elect who meant no harm. Sent at 8:45 pm, the email read:
Domino’s, music and the fire pits at the glade right now!
Innocent enough, right? Wrong. Unbeknownst to the majority of the attendants, a rebel troop had ulterior motives. As the Gunn boys left camp for only an hour and let their guard down to enjoy some pizza and fun, their camp was infiltrated. When they returned to base, the ping pong table was still there—but the net was gone.
At 9:35 pm, via an all-school electronic message, the general disclosed his troop’s demands:
“Give us our ping pong net back. Thank you.
Sincerely, Gunn Dorm.”
As you can see, the boys were fuming with pure rage.
For many, this steal was a victory. The boys were left with what they cherished most, but it was useless to them. Without the net, the table has no power, and without strength, it seemed the barricade would fall. Other bystanders shamed the rebel troops and their attempts to be ‘vigilante heroes,’ saying it is not their place.
46 minutes after they sent their demands, the army earned a faculty endorsement. This faculty member was the same person who only days before this had fought back against the Gunn Dorm, demanding they return a table stolen for their barricade back to in front of Brinsmade. Like many, he did not support the actions of the rebel troops, describing their war efforts in an all-school email as “pranks,” and warning students: “don’t ruin the positive culture you are building for a cheap laugh.” The message included the demand: “Please leave the net where it belongs, or you can drop it off at the DOS Office tomorrow.”
These attempts to pacify the war only backfired. Instead of returning the net, the rebel group had stolen the ping pong table in the night and transported it into an unknown location. Waking up, the boys must’ve felt similar to just three weeks before, when students woke on April 9th to the table missing from its original place.
Despite the satisfaction of revenge, students only became more fearful. The army of angry testosterone-filled teenage boys can be quoted from one of their own seniors as being “ruthless,” and wanting others to “feel the wrath.” Accusations and questions circled. What dorm had taken the table? Who were these vigilantes? Were they associated with the article?
The final lines of ‘The Gunn Barricade’ read: “The key to the war is the table. The table is what the barricade protects, but also what holds their army together, and without it, their empire will fall.” I never thought it would actually happen, but who’s to blame? Is this Trump and the riots on January 6th all over again?
Today, we cannot disclose the identity of this rebel group, but we can report that since the initial steal, they have laid low. Students were intrigued and relieved, expecting a Gunn surrender, but in the end it seemed to be for nothing. On the evening of May 4th, students watched in anxiety from the dining hall terrace as two boys wheeled the ping-pong table on the path back to their dorm.
Soon again, the boys were in front of their dorm, playing the game they cherish. While today the barricade has downsized and resources have been returned to their owners, the Gunn egoism has not been shaken. While students on campus can go back to safety, the boys continue to mark their territory instead with a dark and dreadful threat. Drawn in light purple chalk, it reads: “STAY 6 FEET AWAY FROM OUR DORM!” Scary and COVID Safe.
Now that the war is over, some seniors on campus attempted a victory celebration. There was a parade of toilet paper streamers, but the festivities may have been too soon. However, there is hope that we can use small mistakes like these to allow our senior class to reflect, grow, and mature.
So now we must ask again, was it worth it? Was this battle ever about the table? Or maybe it was out of jealousy, out of revenge for the tables, chairs, benches, and tents stolen. Truthfully, the Gunn boys have played and continued to play ping pong more than any other dorm or students would. If they are just having fun, should they be stopped?
This Sunday, May 29th, all but one of the Gunn Boys will graduate, and so will thirty other seniors. Soon enough, this will all be forgotten, and maybe that’s the way it should be. Despite critique, I don’t believe that this was all for ‘cheap laughs,’ or ‘ruining positive culture.’ A war on campus has only helped prepare students for their futures in the world. As Frederick Gunn once said, “Think Boldly, fearlessly; never fear where unfettered thought will lead you, and play ping pong.”