By Prapti Bamaniya
A Ryerson University student was hospitalized on Monday after attempting to replicate Kerr Hall’s building conditions in her own home.
Fourth-year English student Halley Kerrin is currently recovering from lung inflammation and mild hearing loss at the Brampton Civic Hospital. Kerrin lived in a Toronto apartment for the first three years of her degree, but moved back in with her family when the pandemic hit in Brampton, Ont., 45 kilometers away from Kerr Hall.
Kerrin’s brother, Rohall, said what started off as homesickness for her life in downtown, soon escalated to a dangerous situation. In September, she bought a humidifier for her bedroom and ramped it up to the highest setting so it would feel like being inside Kerr Hall’s moist environment, somehow simultaneously too sweaty and too cold.
Kerrin also replicated the ambient soundscape of the building by recording construction and students screaming and/or swearing outside. Playing this creation on her speakers whenever she listened to online lectures gradually deteriorated her hearing over the past eight months.
To emulate the scent of Kerr Hall, Kerrin mixed sweat with old sandwiches and urine to create a trendy sage green candle that she went on to market on TikTok as a custom atmospheric olfactory wax experience. Her doctors believe keeping the candle lit while she slept caused her lung inflammation; her respiratory system wasn’t able to handle the constant inhalation of toxic fumes.
Although Kerrin is left-handed, she made sure to buy herself right-handed desks for “the same feeling of neglect” the building offered before campus closed
Rohall said when his sister first heard about the potential Kerr Hall demolition, she took her interior design project to a whole new level.
“She started numbering the doors, but out of order,” Rohall said. “She put room 202A in the basement, which would make no sense to a normal person, but kind of makes sense, considering how confusing the original Kerr Hall layout is.”
Kerrin also rearranged her room like a maze so it took extra time to get from her bed to her desk, where she attended her online lectures. She stacked chairs around her bed, scattered empty cardboard boxes everywhere and arranged her teddy bears in a zig-zag pattern on the floor.
“She was trying to replicate the extra 10 minutes she gave herself to find her class when she was in Kerr Hall,” said Rohall.
Although Kerrin is left-handed, she made sure to buy herself right-handed desks for “the same feeling of neglect” the building offered before campus closed. As well, she jammed the printer in her house after printing out every issue of The Eyeopener and Ryersonian from the past year to put on stands around the house, only for her family members to use the papers as placemats for their dining table.
“I don’t understand why she was so mad,” said her mother, Karen. “It’s not like anyone reads campus newspapers in Kerr Hall anyway.”
The house, now covered in mouse traps, was also hit with a rat infestation after Kerrin brought several rats from her local dumpster and set them free in her house. “They don’t have the same attitude as city rats, but I guess they’ll do,” Rohall remembered her saying.
One of Kerrin’s fondest memories of the building was the convenience of the bridge linking it to the Rogers Communications Centre. Since she always did her homework in the coffee shop by the bridge, Kerrin drew up plans to dig a tunnel from her basement to the nearest Starbucks. Her hospitalization prevented her from starting the tunnel; however, her rats have created an intricate network of burrows within her house foundation.
As Kerrin recovers in the hospital, her family is relieved she’s no longer in the house. They can finally breathe clean air, but they still get confused by the misleading labels on doors. “I almost peed in my closet,” said Rohall.
Until she returns home, they’ve been left thinking of her tearful last words before she passed out: “If Rye High won’t be a relevant nickname after Kerr Hall is gone, what will I put in my Instagram bio?”