A Strange Thing About Bowles


Here’s the Thing… really, it’s right there, on the left. Take a good look while you can, as the Thing tends to elude even its most devoted seekers. But why would Berkeley students bother to devote time, their most precious resource, on the endless hunt for the Thing? There is no pot of gold, no laurel wreath for those who succeed; instead, they are greeted only with the same obscene gesture every time.


Let me take a step back — the Thing is a tradition that dates back to the early days of Bowles Hall. The rules of the Thing are simple: one person (known as the Dorque) hides the Thing to the best of their ability and leaves a clue, until someone inevitably finds it. Those who have succeeded in their search then hide the Thing again for the Dorque to find, but with a catch: the Dorque has a mere 24 hours to find it. Should they fail to do so, the Dorque is at the mercy of whoever flummoxed them. “Punishments” have ranged from embarrassing dances at the weekly hall meeting to an ice-cold shower from the hose... after which, the hide-and-seek cycle goes on, just like before.


Bowles Hall is 55,000 square feet of prime hiding spots, so to keep the challenge from being impossible, there are also some basic rules about how and where the Thing can be hidden. The Thing must be touching some part of Bowles Hall itself and be within the building’s premises. In addition, it should be accessible to anyone (i.e. not behind a locked door.) Other than that, even the most ridiculous nooks and crannies are fair game.


I’m a Dorque, and it is my responsibility to ensure that the Thing remains hidden from prying eyes. Traditionally, Bowles Hall has only had one Dorque at a time, but for the past year, the trouble was double. Nick and I have worked together to discover difficult hiding spots and create cryptic, clever clues in our best attempts to stump anyone who searches for it. However, Bowlesmen are ruthless in their pursuit, and we often go back and forth, trying to one-up the previous hiding spot with an even more nefarious idea.


At this point, you may be wondering: why on earth would anyone want to be the Dorque? It seems like great effort for no reward, a constant battle which results in long nights of searching and the occasional “punishment.” Well… you’d be right. I don’t stand to gain anything when I find or hide the Thing, after all. But it’s not about winning anything — the sense of satisfaction I feel every time I finally see the slender wooden figure poking out of some new hiding place is an amazing rush. It’s also a fantastic excuse to procrastinate on my schoolwork. More importantly though, I want to be the Dorque because I want to preserve the wacky traditions of Bowles Hall. The Hall’s rich history is what gives it its character, and keeping the flame alive is easy; next time you’re walking around Bowles, look around a little more carefully — you never know what you may find.


- Themistocles H.

Founded in 1929, Bowles Hall is the only residential college at UC Berkeley. After extensive renovations in 2016, it now offers the premier co-ed four-year housing experience for Berkeley students.

Bowles Hall Residential College

1928 Stadium Rim Way

Berkeley, CA 94720

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