100 square feet, a mini-fridge, and a communal shower — Welcome to college.
Our 2,000-acre college campus offers us one assigned space to claim. We are given permission to tape our identity to inherited walls, so long as we don’t chip the paint.
Coming into college with a complicated relationship with rooms of my past, I instantly fell in love with my cell of a room.
When the novelty of college fades, we confront the grunt work of living on our own, while also learning that privacy is a rarity in communal living. Students exist in forced proximity, with four or even five to a bedroom.
If you are lucky, and have a fondness for isolation, you lived in a single (that’s me). Doubles are essentially a myth: if you can fit two, you can fit three. Living on campus with roughly 9,000 other students and only 100 square feet to live in, do we actually have a space to call our own? A space to properly claim?
Friends of mine didn’t find joy in the person who slept above them. Instead, they found dread when they entered their given space and found refuge exclusively in an area of wall space. Where else to go? At least their favorite band poster watched over them like the dream catcher they never had.
To satisfy my curiosity of looking behind closed doors, I decided to exploit my position as a photojournalist. Here is what I learned from those who dormed last quarter.
Declan Greicius was often found drawing at his desk under his loft bed. Behind him hang small art prints and a poster of Sublime. His door was almost always propped open with an implied invitation.
Nico Reicher is a self-proclaimed “gatherer” who told me that oftentimes her urge to collect gets the best of her. Her space was adorned with trinkets of past and present.
Jackson Pruett spent his first year living in a complicated triple. He spent minimal time in his room throughout the year, but finally settled into his space when both of his roommates moved out. The Clean and Blonde Redhead hung over his place of sleep.
Beatrice White rearranged her room so that her dresser became a headboard and woke up to a well-lit Porter quad. Bea’s wall displayed photos of friends, artwork, vintage magazines, and a love of handbags.
Joshua Shon sits in his colorful room on a couch he found in fall quarter. His triple, shared with Declan, became a common space for friends. A projector sat atop the dresser for impromptu movie and game nights.
Reya Langen told me her favorite part of her room is probably her desk. Since they don’t use it for homework, it became a creative space. Reya’s latest interest is jewelry making.
Author’s note: these confessions were sourced anonymously.
“My roommate socked me in the gut one time.”
“It was fucking nuts the first quarter, I couldn’t go in there, it was like a dungeon.”
“It’s hard not to care about someone you’ve seen every side of for almost a year.”
“They spend all day in there like little hermit crabs so I don’t want to be in there. Also my room is really smelly. And really fucking hot.”
“My roommate thinks he’s always right and gets mad at you if you ask him a question about anything. And he is cancellable for a thousand different things.”
“We don’t talk to each other when we’re in the room together – in the morning we get ready in silence.”
“Her decorations are so fucking ugly.”