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Dorm Community Issues: "Screw Your Roommate"

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This thread is interesting for how residents used the e-mail list as a complement to face-to-face communication to negotiate their social plans and also for the wide interest this seemingly-trivial topic (planning a party) attracted online.

The thread begins with a message categorized not as critical dialogue but as social dialogue (for the distinction, see 04: Social Purposes of Survey Categories), specifically survey category 2 (finding out about or publicizing dorm activities). In the message from Leslie, the dorm government social chairs are announcing the date of a party already discussed (f2f) at a house meeting and also publicizing a meeting intended to get wider participation in the party planning. "Screw Your Roommate" (which quickly becomes abbreviated online to SYR/syr) is the generic name for a dance party commonly held by frosh dorms at Stanford (and I assume at many other colleges and universities) where residents arrange dates for their roommates. The name is ironic because the intention is to be nice to your roommate, ideally by hooking him/her up with that heretofore inaccessible object of his/her affections (leaving the intentional sexual suggestiveness of the name adding to the event's tensions).

After the announcement from the social chairs, in ensuing messages the date is changed, several people make objections to holding SYR at this time and suggest delaying it until spring, and several other people make counter-objections and insist the dance should go forward more or less as planned. In a final twist, just a few days before the event, the social chairs argue for combining forces with Otero, a neighboring frosh dorm, which is planning a party for the same date.

A significantly wider variety of residents -- and in particular a much higher proportion of women -- participated in this thread (which is excerpted below) than in other extended critical dialogue threads. The critical dialogue core group did not participate heavily in this thread. We might speculate that

(a) some people, especially some women in the dorm, were more interested in discussing social events than political issues online; or

(b) some people, especially women, saw this kind of local community negotiation as a more constructive dialogue than the head-to-head of political debate, and hence an opportunity to join the dorm's electronic forum.

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Date: 2/27/96
Subject: screw your roomie!
From: Leslie

Hey, Rinc!

Screw Your Roomie is coming up very soon and we need your help planning it. There will be a meeting for whoever wants to help organize the dance (theme, decorations,DJ etc...) in the lounge at 9:30 on Tuesday, 2/27. Come and stop by with some ingenious ideas! Here's a quick update:

WHAT: Rinconada Screw Your Roomie Semi-Formal

WHEN: March 8, 1996

WHERE: Wilbur Dining Hall (We are very, very close to getting all the signatures needed for approval)

WHO: All Rinc citizens and whoever your roomie sets you up with; Remember, there are only about 2 more weeks so look in the picture book, talk to that hot guy/girl in your CIV section....whatever and start hooking up you roomie!

WHY:This is your last chance this quarter to have lots of fun before finals come around and pummel you to the ground. Don't miss this opportunity to meet new people and party hearty with your fellow Rincsters.


Your faithful social chairs,

Joanna X____

Leslie X____

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Date: 2/29/96
Subject: screw your roomie update
From: Joanna



WHAT:Screw Your Roommate Semi-Formal

WHEN: Saturday, March 9, 1996 10:00pm - 1:00 am

WHERE: Wilbur Dining Hall

Note the date has been changed from Friday, 3/8 to Saturday, 3/9! We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience .... [...details follow...]


Joanna X and Leslie

Date: 2/29/96
Subject: screw your roommate
From: Zelda

Hi Rinc. Well, Linda, Amy, Claudia and I were talking and it just seems that nobody is into our screw your roommate dance at all. Nobody has dates, many of the teams are travelling that weekend, and Otero has their dance on the same night, creating even more discord. What do you think about having the dance in the spring, and just having the progressive on Saturday, Mar 9th? I think everybody will be more enthusiastic in the spring; what do you all think?


Zelda, Linda, Amy, Claudia

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Date: 2/29/96
Subject: re: screw your roommate
From: Dick


Date: 2/29/96
Subject: re: screw your roommate
From: Ronald

The spring might be better, weather and all, but it seems like we try and do anything cool, it always gets postponed. [....]... no matter when we plan it, someone isn't going to make it... at least that is my opinion.

I don't think the date thing should be a consideration.[ ....] .... if it is just a date problem, I think that Rincsters should have no problem getting their roomies hooked up. Hell, we are the best dorm on campus!

Date: 2/15/96
Subject: Screw Your Roommate
From: Phyllis

Dear Rinc,

I understand that there are problems with the date but like Ronald I think that there will be conflicts with any date. My friends and I have been planning on the SYR dance for a while now and we are finally finalizing everything .... [....]



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Date: 2/29/96
Subject: Re: screw your roommate
From: Linda

I just wanted to get my voice heard on this issue, that I too think that it would be better to move the date of the dance to the spring. First of all, we will all be a little less stressed in the beginning of spring quarter as opposed to the end of a quarter, when things get mighty hectic. Plus, this would give us more time to make this dance what we really want it to be. As Melvin so eloquently pointed out, "If we're going to do this, we might as well go all out and make it good." I wholeheartedly agree.


Linda "We've already changed the date so many times, what's one more going to do?" X______

Date: 2/29/96
Subject: screw your roommate
From: Melvin

For all the reasons that everyone has already brought up, I think that postponing screw your roommate is the best thing to do.


Date: 2/29/96
Subject: My syr opinion
From: Bertha

Feb 29


I will have to say that I agree whole heartedly with Ronald and Phyllis. I think that postponing it to the spring will have way to many hassles .... [....] some of us have dutifully been seeking out those hot guys in our civ class and our friends from other dorms to go with our roomies. Just because you have been too lazy to find your roomie a date, is no reason to postpone ....[....]. I think i speak for those who are really fired up for this dance to please not cancel it....[....] I promise, hell, I'll even set up the whole dorm so long as we don't cancel it! Bertha X.

Date: 2/29/96
Subject: screw your roommate
From: Marvin

Yeah, I know that the last thing anyone wants to hear is more crap on the screw your roomie dance, but here is something I don't think anyone has thought about yet.... One person, or even 7, do not a dorm make. If people want to postpone it, find people who do also and see if you can get a majority or anything, really. I mean, as of right now, we are having the dance. If a half dozen people don't like it, that's not enough. I cannot make the dance because of scheduling reasons, but that doesn't mean I want to cancel it. a lot of people are looking forward to this thing, even if they DO complain about no dates.

A rincster need not be to clever

To know that "later, please" means NEVER.

Okay that was trite but it has a point. Let's not be the postponing theme house!

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Date: 2/29/96
Subject: What else could it be?
From: Clarisse

Ok. Here's my $0.02.

Everything's been set: the DJ [did you all forget about the fog machine?]

the place

the date

Joanna & Leslie have worked really hard this past week to pull things together...and they have...pretty successfully, I might add. For the sake of having any DJ at all, they were forced to change the date, but this was a minor detail.

If we decide to postpone SYR until the spring, chances'll never happen. We're going to go into full gear for RAD '96 and..hey, we may be the greatest dorm, but there's only so much we can handle at once.

So let's show our support for our Social Chairs and all the people who have dates and...Pat Buchanan.

ah, i don't know. scrounging for humor.


Date: 2/29/96
Subject: re: My syr opinion
From: Jack

Although I agree with those of you, like Bertha, that feel there will be as many excuses to postpone the dance in the Spring as there are now, I disagree with you that people should just find a new date if they were going with someone that can't (for some reason, I don't know what, maybe another dance) go on Saturday. Suppose they were really excited about going with this other person, and now you play it off like it is no big deal. How do you think that makes them feel. Not too happy I'll bet.

I don't want to postpone the dance to the Spring either, but changing the date at the last minute just is not a cool thing to do. I think the only logical thing we can do is postpone the dance to a time when we can set the date and then not have to change it multiple times.

Jack "lookin out for my boy on the first floor" X____ [....]

Date: 2/29/96
Subject: Re: screw your roommate
From: Ted

OK Rinc: Here's my angle on the postponing issue. For those who have already gone through the little embarassments and inconveniences to get their roomates dates, it would be unfair to change the date. Furthermore, think about it from the dates' perspective: You've committed to a dance, perhaps at some social risk and perhaps after canceling other social engagements. So now Rinc cancels. Are you going to commit AGAIN in the spring? No. Why? The dorm's unreliable, it might be embarrasing, etc.

And for those of you who complain that this is being "thrown together at the last minute": I don't think you appreciate the work Joanna, Daisy, and others have put into this- don't just dismiss it because

a) you're sour at not having a date, or

b) it's inconvenient for you, so the Social Chairs should bust their butts again in the spring while you don't do anything to help. In short, it's up to the dorm as a whole not to whine about the issue, but to actually DO something about it- help organize it, help decorate, and so on. I don't think it's out of our reach to be able to pull this off. There will always be conflicts. But it's up to the dorm as a whole to make it happen. If we don't care enough about it to so, then it's our fault. But don't blame the organizers.

Just a thought, Ted

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Date: 3/2/96
Subject: Screw Your Roomie
From: Leslie

Hey Rinc!

We have a small dilema with our Screw Your Roommate dance. Okay, here's the deal: The other day, the Otero social chairs talked to Joanna and I about the dance. They mentioned the possibility of having a joint Rinc-Otero dance since we were having the dances on the same night. We said we'd consider it and talk to them later. However, they went ahead and took a dorm vote on it -- and voted that they'd like to have the dance with us. Anyway, this is just another option. We are in no way committed to having a joint dance. One reason we may want to have it with Otero is because of possible music/space problems (they'd be in their lounge and we're in the dining hall and the music might overlap). On the other hand, it may be nice to have a dance just to bond and spend time with Rinc people. Could you all please talk to Laura or me or email the Rinc government address ASAP with your opinions?!?!

Thanks and hope to hear from ya soon, Leslie and Joanna

Date: 3/5/96
Subject: bannana
From: Beverly

Dear Rinc,

Well, It seems that the screwing of roomates is eminent, blah, blah, blah. We decided in House meeting (those of us who went) that we wanted to have a "pre-party" type of event. Because this thing is happening on Saturday, having a real proggresive party might be pushing it, but maybe not. However, if people are interested tell me NOW.

I also need money, just cause I write checks for some things doesn't mean that write checks for everything. So it will be pretty much like that Soto party thing. Money and requests. I need that by House Meeting.

The list of people that said that they were helping out mysteriously dissapeared (I think I lost it). So if those people are still interested... I'm not that creative of a person, so ideas of things to do, themes, people to help set up, clean up (Oh yeah, I wanna clean up that sounds like fun!!!) and any other things that I'm leaving out.

Okay, this is getting too long (I have a short attention span, especially for e-mail) so I'll end it. I also have to go to Band now.

Speaking of Band....Are you still deciding what classes to take next quarter????

Bev "My real middle name is Leilani-means heavenly princess, go figure" erly

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© Copyright 1997 by Richard Holeton and Stanford University