Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Barred from libraries, classes, and clubs, students at Swarthmore racked their brains to remember how to relax in the face of so much free time with the cancellation of classes on Monday and Tuesday. Hurricane Sandy knocked out power across campus at 8pm on October 30th, effectively halting half-hearted studying attempts and leaving students locked in their dorms in virtual darkness. While some jaded students were weary to allow themselves the opportunity to take the night off, others leapt at the chance to unwind and bond with their hall.
Movie-watching was common in many dorms, but others took bonding to the next level, like Wharton EF 2. The freshmen constructed a blanket fort encompassing the entire lounge, creating a cozy dim cave for those sitting underneath.
Both freshman and seniors gathered underneath to sing, accompanied by Jackson Pietsch ’13 on guitar. A few adventurous Swatties decided to spend the night in the lounge, sleeping under the canopy of sheets tied to furniture.
Dana Basement made a classy night of the hurricane weather, “feasting on bread, cheese, and garlic crackers by the light of the flashlight,” Sarah Geselowitz ’16 remembers. Seven hallmates sung folk and Disney songs to both Abigail Henderson ’14 and Abby Holtzman ’16 on guitar. Afterwards, they told short stories, like Kurt Vonnegut’s EPICAC and a story remembered from a Japanese lit class.
Some of the more adventurous Swatties chose to see the hurricane’s might up close, like Alden Dirks ’16, who made the trek from Willets to Wharton Monday night, as the storm began to pick up. Dirks wrote in an email that he “faced the hurricane and all its category 1 ferocity, traversing the rugged campus grounds and surviving wild whooshing leaves and falling twigs.”
When he made it back to his dorm, he and a few friends took the chance to prank a hallmate, barricading him in his room with a pile of trashcans and a mattress.
Musical talents were the central focus of Mertz first floor’s bonding, as an ordinary movie night turned into an impromptu jam session. “It started off with one guitar, an African drum, and an egg shaker,” Kandyce McConico ’16 said. “But more and more people grabbed instruments, so we ended up with two drums, three different types of guitars, two tambourines, a million egg shakers, and we even had some people join in with vocals. We all just harmonized together.”
It’s rare moments like these that remind Swatties to step back from the books and embrace a little spontaneity. And then it’s right back into the grind.
Photo credit Monika Zaleska ’13