The quint in Roberts Hall may be Swarthmore’s best-kept secret. Roommates Ben Postone ’15, Erik Jensen ’15, Alex Moskowitz ’15, Zoeth Flegenheimer ’15, and Michael Fishman ’15 reside in a spacious suite-style dorm that encapsulates the playful dynamic that exists between the five roommates.
In the middle of a hallway on the second floor, a stack of tall steps lead up to the Roberts’ quint. “It is as though we live on the second and a half floor” explained Moskowitz.
Inside, a large triple and a double are connected by a spacious living room the roommates set up. This is “where we all congregate,” Flegenheimer said. Decorating was a collaborative process as the five roommates brought objects from home and also shared the cost of new furniture. A rug lies under a number of couches, including two bought at Goodwill. To complement their sleek flat-screen TV, the roommates recently bought and set up new surround sound. Postone explained that the living room has become a “leisure space in the evenings.” There is an Xbox and a Wii and a wide assortment of games, yet Flegenheimer admits the roommates usually “watch lots of TV and seasons of Scrubs together,” which is often accompanied by Chinese food.
Above the TV is a large Arsenal flag and on the opposite wall, there are two paintings made by Postone’s mom. Facing the two windows in the room is a cardboard cut-out of the Miller man delivery guy commercials, Windell Middlebrooks. According to Jensen, the cutout is “pretty divisive in Roberts,” adding that many students will get “completely terrified when they see him staring out of the window when they’re walking back late at night.” Fishman also noted the Miller man has frightened the roommates themselves. “We kept forgetting it was there,” he said.
Adjacent to the living room is a double shared by Postone and Jensen. Postone is an Honors Sociology and Anthropology major from the south side of Chicago. Near Postone’s bed is a Humphrey Bogart poster along with a painting “made with my mom before I left for school,” he said. The painting shows “my artistic expression” he added. Above his dresser, Postone has a picture of Chicago’s skyline. “I identify a lot with the city,” he said.
Jensen describes the room he shares with Postone as “exclusively a leisure space.” He claims the “Doctor Who” and “Blues Brothers” posters above his bed, along with the aluminum artifact he made for his final project in shop class last year, as “[tying] in pretty heavily to different parts of my personality,” further adding “[and] it’s always nice to come home and see John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd staring at you in sunglasses.” The unique feature of the double is its private bathroom, which is cleaned everyday by EVS staff. Jensen appreciates cleanliness. “Ben is a great roommate,” he said. “He sleeps through almost anything … and he is pretty clean as well,” in comparison to “what Zoeth’s side of the room normally looks like.”
Past the living room and across a small passageway is the triple shared by Moskowitz, Flegenheimer, and Fishman. The room has a skylight and is of impressive size, which has allowed the roommates to create their own space. In the left corner near the door, Flegenheimer has decorated his side with a “random assortment of things I thought were funny,” he said. His bookshelf is crowded with little knickknacks that he said have simply started “piling up” over time. Meanwhile, stacks of books cover every inch of Flegenheimer’s desk. “That’s more of a storage area,” noted Moskowitz. “I worked in my actual room once,” added Flegenheimer, mentioning that he and the other guys do most of their work at Underhill library.
Fishman compared Flegenheimer to a “jovial … piece of gum that keeps us all together,” and roommates saw in Flegenheimer’s bunny slippers a clear depiction of his personality. Moskowitz said they are “comforting and very entertaining,” while Fishman simply noted “you can’t take them seriously.”
Moskowitz’s bed is perpendicular to the right wall. He has a map “marked with places I’ve been to,” he said, which include Buenos Aires, Argentina, Spain, London, Kansas City, and many spots in Western Europe. He is a “big fan” of Harry Potter and has a poster near his bed. Directly above his bed is a plastic penguin fastened to the wall by tape. Since the beginning of the semester, the roommates “just started moving him around” from place to place until he ended up on the wall. The roommates also have fun with a squishy water toy named Leonard. “We like to hide him,” Flegenheimer said, who mentioned he hung from a chain in the middle of the room at one point.
Fishman’s side of the room faces the door. He has a Barcelona soccer jersey and a postcard along with a picture of a painting from artist Michael Godard who “I’m fond of” Fishman said. There is a pool cue laying near the ceiling that Fishman notes is now “internal design” and not used to play. He also placed vinyl records on the walls, explaining “I like classical music.” Fishman has an acoustic and electric guitar but claimed his collection of books are most him. “[They] display my passions,” he said, which include psychology, neuroscience, art history, and architecture.
“My roommates are completely ridiculous, but we have all been good friends from the beginning of freshman year,” Jensen said. Most people block into Roberts “so every room is a bunch of close friends living together,” he said.
For Moskowitz, the best thing about Roberts is having the “ability to design our own space,” stating that the room “feels more like an apartment than a dorm.”
One of the biggest advantages of living in Roberts is the large kitchen found on the first floor which is supplied with communal dish ware. The roommates regularly cook together and make pasta, fried rice, omelets, and Postone’s specialty, oatmeal with peanut butter and cinnamon. For Jensen, living in Roberts comes down to two things: having a great room but not liking its off campus. “Even though it is not too much of a walk” he said, “there are times when I feel a little separated from Swarthmore.” For Postone, the relationship with his roommates makes it worthwhile. “We get along great,” he asserted, and with friends on campus, four roommates, a penguin, Leonard, an Einstein doll hanging over the door, and the Miller man, who could dispute that they “have lots of fun [together].”