There are many abortions of environmental design on the Berkeley campus. It’s common to hear people complain of the labyrinthine halls of Dwinelle, the threateningly phallic Campanile, the strange dog-shape of Wurster, and Evans Hall’s general funk ugliness. While all these structures are architectural abominations of their own right, there’s one blasphemous mound of brick and mortar that often goes unnoticed by structural kvetchers. I speak, of course, of Tolman Hall: Berkeley’s forgotten epicenter of sinistry.
To begin with, there’s its location. No matter where you are on campus, Tolman is far away. Nestled in the wilderness of the unexplored Northwest Territory, any trip to Tolman necessarily involves an adventurous journey through uncharted regions and a means of eluding the predatorial forest gnomes that haunt its environs. One never finds one’s self at Tolman Hall by mere happenstance; if you’re there, you’re there for a reason, and it’s usually a damned good one. This, incidentally, is why so few actual classes are held in this beast, since precious few of even the most dedicated students are willing to jackass up to Tolman on a regular basis.
The true evil, however, does not make itself apparent until you step inside the building through one of its many outside doors. The confusing interior layout of the building makes navigation difficult, but this struggle is further augmented by the many mind games that the building plays on its visitors. Sloping, darkening hallways, mysterious glass walls, and five-legged rats are only a few of the anomalies one might find while wandering the Tolman halls. Take a ride in the Tolman elevator and you’ll see what I mean. Go on, get in there. Good. Now take a look around, and look at the floor. The walls are carpeted, yet the floor is bare! What’s that all about?
So why such mystery? Simple. Tolman Hall is the home of the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology, where students earn their pitiful little degrees by experimenting on others. Since few people can be willingly coaxed into participating in these bizarre tests, the department administrators decided to turn the building into one big psychological laboratory. My suspicions on this matter were confirmed one day when I found myself in the Tolman Hall ladies’ room investigating a wooden chair that someone had placed in front of the stalls. When I began to move away, a booming voice from an unseen source shouted, “Please continue with the experiment!”
After this unexpected exclamation I heard a second, hushed voice say, “Quiet, you fool!” followed by a strange buzzing and the sound of a body hitting the floor. Needless to say I forgot about my toilet cams and hi-tailed it right on out of there.
Others, I’m sure, have not been so lucky. Take heed, my loyal minions. Tolman Hall is not a place for the weak or the righteous. It is a festering den of terror where demonic hordes of psychology students exact their sinister machinations so that one day they’ll be able to sit in comfy chairs, doodle in notebooks, and say “Mm-hmm” over and over again for $150 per hour.