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The pocket handbook for dorm-neighbor behavior


The walls are more like paper than plaster. The hallways reek of peculiar, cloying odors. The bathrooms are suspiciously messy. On the whole, communal living is a mixed bag of kinship and awkwardness, convenience and compromise, particularly among college students. At its peak, dorm living can be a labor of love; courtesy and empathy for your neighbors contribute to a clean, cooperative home for all, a space for leisure and pleasure subject to your whim. At its lowest, though, dorm living is the opposite; selfishness and unaccountability have rendered some dorms-that-shall-not-be-named all but unrecognizable. There must, therefore, be some standards of civility – in addition to basic decency that comes with sharing a space – custom-tailored for the college crowd. Beyond the roommate-etiquette your mother or brother or a-little-off-but-well-meaning uncle bestowed upon you before arriving at Stanford your freshman year, here are a handful of somewhat more specific rules for residential living on campus. (And yes, this is more than a little targeted at you, Crothers populace.)

Please don’t play the soundtrack of “The Lion King” at 10:07 a.m. I’m as down with Disney as anyone else (sometimes too much so), but I don’t want Simba narrating his plans for his royal regime as I’m speed-writing a reading response I should have done two days ago, ja feel? (Yes, this includes any other anthropomorphized Disney animals.)

Please ditch major thoroughfares as make-out spots. I’m not here to review your relationship politics, but please don’t make performance art of your PDA in the center of the stairwell. That’s the nearest entrance to my room, fam, come on. Even, like, six inches to the left would be helpful.

Please don’t judge when you see me set up on a couch between stairwells at 3 a.m. with a threadbare blanket, a mug of tea, seven sheets of paper at my feet, and no makeup on. We’ve all been in that liminal space between sleepy, productive and shameful. It’s okay. Panic-attack it out. If we make eye contact the next morning, it’s a mutual agreement to lose our memory of the last 12 hours.

Please offer a reason for the random thumping. Are you practicing parkour from your lofted bed? Are you assembling a defective drum set? Does smashing your head against your desk alleviate stress? What if there’s just a single, solitary thump? Please enlighten an easily-distracted bitch; the suspense is like being killed with a spoon.

Please don’t talk about your porn preferences. Please. I’m begging you. Especially at 1:32 a.m. Especially after quiet hours. At that point, my hands are (metaphorically, let’s be clear) tied. Be into your shit in your own time. I don’t need to know, your roommate doesn’t need to know, our RA definitely doesn’t need to know.

Bonus: Please continue playing “On My Own” and “Stars” from Les Misérables as piano practice around noon, whoever you are. Keep filling the darkness (of winter quarter) with order and light; my musical-theater-loving-heart and I appreciate it.

Familiarity supposedly breeds contempt; please do your part not to exacerbate it.


Contact Claire Francis at claire97 ‘at’

Hi all! Talk to me about fairy tales and mythology, musicals, mental health, feminism, Harry Potter, old Disney Channel media, Gothic fiction, Italy, television shows (past and/or present), Anne Sexton, the publishing industry, yoga, or how to not overshare to strangers.