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A Quiet Goodbye: Friday marked the tenants' last day in the Brickhouse



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The door stands ajar Oct. 25 as the tenants move out of the Brickhouse. The tenants of the house were forced to move out roughly two weeks following the shooting. Izzy Myszak Buy Photos

It was the last time he would wake up in the house he had called home for the last two and a half years. 

IU senior Grant Mitchell and his four other roommates spent Friday moving their belongings, furniture and memories out of the Brickhouse.

After an Oct. 13 shooting outside a homecoming party being thrown at 422 S. Grant St. brought the popular Bloomington music venue into the spotlight, the tenants were asked to mutually terminate their lease. 

The tenants were asked to accept the mutual termination agreement or face eviction last week. They were given 24 hours to make their decision and expected to be out of the house within three days. 

Mitchell said he spoke with a lawyer,and IU ended up extending the move-out deadline by a week. But an extra week in the Brickhouse still wasn’t enough.

The seven extra days went by, and it was time to part with the home that meant so much to them.

Although Mitchell had to move out of the Brickhouse on Friday, he didn’t spend his morning packing. Instead, he spent that time in the Dean of Students Office.

Mitchell was joined by a dozen of his friends to march from the Brickhouse to the office to present their petition. 

Mitchell’s friend Gus Gonzalez, guitarist and vocalist of the Bloomington-based band Flower Mouth, created the petition Oct. 18, and it has received more than 3,000 signatures. The petition advocated for alerts for active shooters off campus and for the renters of the Brickhouse.

Mitchell’s friends showed up to the Brickhouse one final time Friday. It wasn’t for a house show. They sat on the front porch in the daylight. And the mood was somber.

Gonzalez arrived at the Brickhouse with the printed petition in hand, including all the signatures, comments and relevant social media posts. He stuck the 167-page stack of paper inside a notebook, and then they began their march toward campus. 

In less than 15 minutes, they were walking into the Indiana Memorial Union, carrying signs that read “Justice for Brickhouse” and “notify us.” 

They filed into the lobby of the Dean of Students Office, a room far too small for that many occupants.

Mitchell and Gonzalez signed into the office and waited for the Dean – for almost an hour.

Mitchell wanted the conversation to be public and inclusive of everyone present, but they were told that didn’t fit the Dean of Students Office policy.

Instead, Mitchell and Gonzalez went back to speak with Dave O’Guinn, vice provost for student affairs and Dean of Students. After about a half an hour of discussions, Mitchell and Gonzalez emerged back into the lobby. Some supporters had to leave for their 11 a.m. classes, but many stayed until they were done.

Mitchell said he was happy about what they discussed and felt like he got his point across. But he said he’d be happier if their conversation provokes any steps toward change.

Gonzalez said O’Guinn was receptive to the idea of an IU-Notify policy change and invited Gonzalez to speak in open forums. 

“The main concerns were the fact that they felt like there was no need to issue an alert, and we have 3,000 signatures to say otherwise,” Mitchell said.

Though they felt heard about IU-Notify, Mitchell said there needs to be more discussions about his situation with the Brickhouse.

“The Dean’s Office is not working for me," Mitchell said. "They weren’t concerned about my rights, and they were just thinking about IU rather than about the students.” 

Mitchell said he demanded compensation and that no students are ever treated like they were again. He said he told O’Guinn that he would like his rent to be subsidized to cover the cost difference between the Brickhouse and his new apartment.

Mitchell returned to the Brickhouse to finish packing a little after noon. He took his belongings, put them in a moving van and transported it across town to his new apartment.

The van arrived at Redbud Hill, Mitchell’s new home for the rest of the school year. He said his apartment has no air conditioning or controlled heating and costs over a $100 more a month than what he paid at the Brickhouse.

“At this point, I’m happy to be living somewhere,” Mitchell said. “Two days ago I didn’t know I would be living anywhere. The fact that I have a place is really nice.”

After moving everything into his new place, Mitchell drove back to Brickhouse for one final sweep. One final walk across the old wooden floor. 

Mitchell was emotional. His bedroom off the kitchen was bare for the first time in two and a half years. But that wasn’t the hard part.

What was hard was walking down the old stairs into the basement and looking into the room that held so many good memories and knowing he’d never make any more.

Memories raced through his head as he looked around the room. Mitchell thought about how happy the basement made people and how impressed people were with the space.

Mitchell said he could feel the room. He said it felt like being hugged. He always prided himself on how safe and inclusive it was.

“It’s the thing I’ve been the most proud to be a part of,” Mitchell said, choking up. “I’m just really sad to see it go like this.”

He said he sat down in the middle of the large basement on the cement floor and began to meditate. It was just him and the basement. 

Mitchell said people often told him the Brickhouse was the heart and soul of the Bloomington music scene. Gonzalez said he knows the scene will survive even without its most influential venue.

“We’ve proven through this petition and the response to this situation that there’s a lot of love here, and we’re always going to be here to hold each other up,” Gonzalez said.

Mitchell and his roommates weren’t alone during this time of chaos, sadness and change. The Bloomington music scene was behind them.

Another venue organized a house show Friday night to benefit the tenants of the Brickhouse. All donations collected were given to the tenants to go toward moving expenses.

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