Pittenger Residence Hall is a small dorm on the outskirts of campus. It is situated between Clothier Fields and the town of Swarthmore on a lawn nestled by tall trees, creating a more private and nearly secluded living environment. Despite its small size, the stone building evokes a sense of grandeur. There is a broad staircase that leads to the door, a fence adorned by pointed rocks encircles a small porch, and the foundation is cut through by low arches that provide depth to the building.
Junior Sera Jeong lives in a single that is moderate in size. Yet, the painted white walls and large window make her room appear bright and spacious. When asked about her decorating process, Jeong said she “wanted to create something comfortable to come back to.” Although Jeong admits that decorating her dorm during her first two years at Swarthmore was the least of her priorities, she has now implemented the style that has always been hers into her single. “I like things to be comfortable but aesthetically pleasing as well,” Jeong said. Not only is this visible in her clothing style but also throughout every aspect of her dorm.
Not wanting her space to “look like a dorm,” Jeong got rid of the standard wooden bookshelf and chair found in every dorm on campus. She brought in a large blue couch that currently lies against the wall facing the door and a peculiar chair made out of metal tubing and a medicine ball. Most noticeable are the glass objects adorning the dorm. Wine glasses, tumblers, vases and shot glasses of all shapes and sizes are carefully placed along her desk and windowsill. Jeong explains the glasses’ functionality by noting they are objects she can “use everyday but still look pretty”. The glasses reflect light in the room and also hold small flowers including pale pink roses and hydrangeas, Jeong’s favorite. She admits not to be very fond of posters and argues “flowers are the alternative.”
Jeong has been told her dorm is reminiscent of a hospital room due to its brightness and lack of “aggressive colors”; there are no primary colors nor neon shades, and there’s absolutely no red, making her dorm a poor study space. “I’ve made it so comfortable it’s a problem,” she said, admitting she gets the urge to come to her dorm whenever she has any free time.
Jeong did confess some disappointment in the lack of socializing that happens in Pittenger. In her opinion, Pittenger is “not a real dorm” and she wishes it was “more complete”; there is only one gender-neutral bathroom and no printer. Moreover, there is no RA on her floor and no lounge, which factor into having a quiet hall life. Jeong noted that she tries to keep her door open but she is one of only two girls on her floor. “I have to drag people off campus to my room,” she explained. There are positives to having only one other female companion, Jeong explained: there is no waiting for a shower, no hogging of the mirror, and no hair in the drains.
Two years ago, Jeong began writing “Dorm Dive” for The Phoenix. She noticed Swat Style Snapshot was a popular newspaper feature because it was an interesting way for students to learn about their fellow Swatties, and saw the same potential to generate interest in a dorm-centered feature. The job itself, which involves seeking out students who might have interesting rooms, was not an easy logistic to get around. “I thought it was pretty creepy,” she admitted.
Learning about the interactions between roommates and discovering how individual interests were reflected in students’ dorms made it all worthwhile. One of Jeong’s own interests is art. On her wall are post cards portraying paintings from a number of art museums she has visited, including Swarthmore’s List Gallery. Her favorite postcard shows a painting by Georgia O’Keefe. The piece depicts a cow skull with a pale colored rose.
Unlike many students who may enjoy living closer to campus, Jeong is not bothered by the distance between Pittenger and the center of campus. “I’m a morning person … I enjoy the walk,” she explained. Jeong also lived in Mary Lyon her freshman year, which she described as “the next town over.” Pittenger is not as bad as it could be. Plus, walking in the sun, taking in the fresh air with the “trees flanking past” as Jeong said, can in fact be argued to be both functional and “aesthetically pleasing”.