Swatraditions: How To Screw Your Roommate

Traditions at Swat span far and wide, but one of them is particularly special: Screw Your Roommate, more commonly known as Screw. It’s one of the most highly-anticipated and popular events of the spring semester, and for good reason. Every year during the weekend of Valentine’s Day, Swatties come dressed in various costumes to find their “match” and have dinner in Sharples. A few weeks before, roommates and friends help set each other up on a blind date. All in all, it’s a fun time for people to get creative with their costume ideas and to meet new people!

The requirements for a successful Screw include:

1) Good Friends and Roommates

The process of Screw starts pretty early, which means that it’s a big deal, since events at Swarthmore usually start 7 minutes late (the widespread “Swat Seven” phenomenon, in which people arrive slightly late to everything). Anyway, starting in late January, Screw-anticipation begins with roommates asking each other who they secretly want to be “screwed” with. Sometimes, however, you won’t get consulted at all, and your roommate and friends will brainstorm ideas of who they think would be a good match for you. These compatibility areas can include having personalities meshing together, or liking similar hobbies & interests, or having mutual friends. In contrast, sometimes you’ll have roommates who decide to pull a little mischief and will purposely set you up with someone that you might have zero overlap with. Either way, you’re bound to have a suspenseful time trying to figure out who exactly you’ll be having dinner with in three weeks.

Aw (: roommates who’ve dressed each other up as Pokemon Trainer and Hobbes — ready to find their Ash and Calvin!

2) A Thoughtful Costume

After having secured a date for your roommate, it’s time to come up with a costume! If you’re stumped for an idea, you can always turn to the classics: salt & pepper, Winnie-the-Pooh & Tigger, Medusa & a statue turned to stone, etc. It’s also fun to think of a themed idea that might relate to your roommate’s major or hobby.

Two of my friends who are bio majors, dressed as coral and clownfish!!

Of course, if you’re feeling creative and you know your friends well, you can make an inside joke out of the costume. Last year, I set up two of my friends — Jordan, who was taking CS 21 out of sheer need to fulfill her natural science requirements, and Karl, who was a Computer Science “Ninja” helping other CS students with their assignments in review sessions. My friends and I agreed that this would be a funny costume idea, since Jordan frequently went to the Ninjas to ask questions, and they’d both understand the joke. (Side note: we chose a Windows computer and not a Mac because it’s a trend for people involved in CS to own PCs over Macs.)

Windows computer meets its Ninja!

3) Going in Without Expectations & Having a Sense of Humor

For most people, Screw is simply a time to get to meet new people. Most people aren’t expecting to meet “the one,” and instead, it’s exciting to have an opportunity to get to know someone you might not usually see around campus. Even if you and your date don’t have as much in common as your roommate thought you would, there’s plenty to talk about over dinner, including the fantastic and hilarious costume ideas that people have come up with!

My hallmates freshman year. Costumes included Lady Gaga, Dora the Explorer, Dora’s backpack, and a flower waiting to be pollinated.

And sometimes, when you expect nothing, you end up with a lot more than you thought you would. My friends paired me with someone who I vaguely knew from Chorus, and since I was dressed with wacky words like “Fraka-kaka-kow!” and “A-oo-oo-oo-ooo!”, I knew that I was looking for a fox from the viral song/music video, What Does the Fox Say. We found each other in Sharples amidst a crowd of other people trying to find their other half, and our Screw dinner turned out to be incredibly interesting because we discovered that we had so much in common. Soon afterwards, we became friends, had more Sharples dinners, and the rest is history (:

Andrew is the fox and I’m what the fox says! 

So, who knows what’ll happen? Screw is always a mystery. Maybe, this February, you’ll be finding love, a passing acquaintance, or even a new friend that you can say hi to around Swarthmore!


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