Last week it was reported that 20 percent of first-years had withdrawn their enrollment from Whitman College over winter break, with most of these decisions citing the apparent lack of inspiration for professional TikTokers.
Kaitlin Basser complained that as soon as she arrived on campus in August, she noticed that the “content creation culture” promoted on Whitman brochures was disappointingly absent.
“When I came to Whitman for Admitted Students Day last spring, I was led to believe that the administration supported a flourishing TikTok community…but that is not what I found to be true. What I did find was a thriving STEM program, unending homework, and most regrettably, Jewett couch beds. These factors really limited my potential and stunted my creative energy.”
In an attempt to create a space more conducive to content creation, Whitman recently reopened and re-branded the abandoned North Hall as a “collab house.” Also known as “content houses,” communal living spaces such as this one create a TikTok friendly environment that allow teens to live and work among other artists devoted to the craft.
Although North possesses no natural light, no open space and no amenities such as pools, sound systems and plush furniture – all of which create ideal conditions for collab houses – Whitman remains optimistic. Now entering its third week of being open the building, recently renamed “North Nation,” already boasts 23 residents.
First-year and North Nation member Jake Petris weighed in on his switch from Jewett 4-West to North.
“Like…I’m living in this gross fucking hospital that’s kinda collapsing, but it’s like…kind of a vibe, you know?” Petris said.
While the building is no longer safe to live in, the most popular TikToks produced so far out of North have used these unfortunate circumstances – no ventilation, no running water and no supervision – to their advantage. Petris’ highest viewed videos are “I LIVE IN AN ABANDONED HOSPITAL??” and “I HAD SEX WITH A GHOST!!” Also well received by fans were his rat spotlight videos, where he introduces a rat living in the building and names it.
Sequestered a half a mile away from campus, classes are optional for North Nation residents, and scholarships are given to those who promote Whitman College through paid ads on their various social media platforms.
While catering to TikTokers has undermined Whitman’s rigorous academics, President Kathy Murray urges faculty and staff to understand that times are changing.
“Our business here cannot only be to learn…now it must be our business to promote content.”