An Open Letter To The Henderson Building Front Door

As a senior, I’ve been in nearly every building on campus. But when I registered for classes this semester, I noticed that one of them was in the Henderson Building. To my surprise, not only had I never been in this “Henderson Building,” I didn’t even know where it was.

In short, this bad boy is not winning any awards in the looks category. It’s a utilitarian lump on the right side of Old Main Lawn, indistinguishable from its brethren.

But, I empathize with you, Henderson Building. I empathize.

The first time I walked to my class, I opened your front door the way I would any other door, expecting it to meet me with some resistance and stop itself. To my surprise, it kept going, making earth-shattering contact with the pillar next to it.

Everyone looked at me.

Was this common knowledge? Was I just the village idiot? Apparently not. In the months since then, I have heard dozens, maybe hundreds, of students make the same mistake.

The funny thing is that you actually do have one of these things, which is thrillingly called a “Door Closer.” (Trust me, I spent a few minutes making sure it didn’t have a fancier name.) The problem is that it only helps you close gently, not open.

Although the Henderson Building houses the College of Health and Human Development, our scientists on campus might be interested to know that its front door registers on the Richter scale.

To be fair, no one is intentionally treating you this way. If only you had a sign, or could speak for yourself. Or if you could just have a foam pad or something, which apparently we don’t have the funding for. I’m sure everyone who works in the Henderson Building would be down for a solution that costs less than a Benjamin.

Until then, the three most consistent sounds on campus are all located across from each other: The Old Main bell, the Willard Preacher’s incessant rambling, and the rhythmic THUMP of your door fighting for its life.

You should be having a grand old time, sitting where you are. You’re on prime real estate, with a clear view of the people touring Old Main and the joy of graduating seniors taking their pictures in the spring. The Walker Building’s front door should wish it were you. 

But every semester, your old, creaky self gets brutalized by some wide-eyed student who frankly doesn’t know any better. While they get to trudge on to one of your wonderfully musty classrooms, you’re bolted in place — always mere seconds away from slamming violently into a slab of rock. In other words, you’re basically Sean Clifford in the pocket.

And as your final reward, when the splinters start to show and you just can’t take it anymore, you’re probably ticketed for the local scrapyard. It’s a tough existence. 

Folks, we all have our highs and lows here at Penn State. But when you’re at your lowest, and you think that no one has it worse than you, think of the front door of the Henderson Building.

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About the Author

Adam Babetski

Adam Babetski is a senior double majoring in broadcast journalism and medieval history and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He's from the only part of Virginia without tractors and southern accents, except Richmond (reportedly). You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBabetski for hot takes about sports. For serious inquiries, email [email protected].

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