He, She, and Phe: The Magical World of Keeney Quad

Keeney

Hello prospective students, confused current students, and lost surfers of the web. Welcome to He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown, where I address your questions about the most ubiquitous aspect of college living. My name is Justin Ferenzi, and I’m here to help shine some light on the rollercoaster ride that is dorm life.

“Dang it. Keeney.”

Or so I said to myself on the sultry August morning I received my room assignment. I had done all of my extensive research, scouring the internet and asking Brown students about the dorms. The general consensus about Keeney Quadrangle seemed to be that it was highly entropic: you shove 600 freshmen into a single building, and watch as things become more and more disordered as time goes on. “The Keeney Zoo” was a common pet name for the innocent-looking red brick building.

As someone who values privacy, peace, and cleanliness, I awaited the assignment e-mail from ResLife with a single wish—nay, mantra—rolling over in my head. “Not Keeney, not Keeney.

As so often happens in these types of situations (or at least to those who also possess my special brand of bad luck), I opened the e-mail, and read the garishly formatted declaration of my fate for the next eight months: EVERETT-POLAND HOUSE. KEENEY QUADRANGLE.

My poor little heart sank. Little did I know, I was in for one of the most pleasant surprises of my life.

My first feeling about Keeney when I arrived on move-in day was one of contentment. It was not in the state of dilapidation that its reputation suggested; in fact, it was rather charming. Keeney is home to two small quadrangles, a spiral staircase, a few picnic tables and benches, and a little garden. Inside Everett-Poland, one of the three houses of Keeney Quad, were bright green walls and carpet that felt more “aging hippie’s living room” than “chaotic freshman hellhole.” The rooms were spacious, the bathrooms tolerable, and the vibes very, very chill.

So I moved in (another topic for another day), met my roommate and some floormates (ditto), and mentally prepared myself for the rest of my stay in Keeney. On that first day, I was sure that I would have to coexist with Keeney. I wouldn’t push back against its inevitable spiral into sweaty dorm parties and incessant loud music, but I wouldn’t become a part of it. I’d forge my own path and patterns independent of what I thought to be the Keeney lifestyle.

But then something weird happened. I enjoyed myself.

The dorm parties, while sweaty, are not only pretty fun, but a really amazing way to meet new people. I met a group of kids on my very first night here who I talk to and hang out with all the time, independent of the typical group of freshman floormates. Being in such close proximity to so many people for such an extended period of time sounded terrifying, but it wound up becoming one of the best parts of my experience thus far at Brown.

I expected a cacophony of loud noises, ugly sights, and smelly smells that would keep me up every night. Instead, I found a rich symphony of late night jam sessions, new types and genres of music from all over the globe, and, sure, the occasional pulsating Top 40 tune. The people here are so diverse in everything: fashion sense, talents, taste in food, interests and passions, and ways of life. I expected clashes and cliques; I found a continual exchange among the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. And beyond that, I’ve been able to make some really incredible friends.

So if you’re someone like me, who oscillates between “let’s go do something fun!” and “I just want to watch 7 hours of Netflix” on the hourly, fear not Keeney Quadrangle. It’s totally possible to not go out and have a chill, relaxing night. (Free pizza and board games every Friday in Arnold Lounge is a center point for many of those evenings). It’s also totally possible to go to 8 different dorm parties in a row and go to sleep when everyone else is waking up. So if you’re a more the extroverted, social butterfly type, your Keeney experience can fit your needs too. And if you just prefer to kick back with a few friends, watch a movie, and not to anything too extreme, there’s a ton of options for you too.

As the year goes on, I hope to learn more about life in dorm buildings that I don’t reside in, and interview the people that do. But for now, my opinions and experiences will be seen though the lens of Keeney, which is arguably the most typical “freshman dorm” that Brown has.

Keeney Quadrangle, like college, is what you make of it. You shape your environment, and your environment in turn helps you to grow and develop on this unique four-year journey. Don’t make my mistake and go in with a closed mind, be it towards a dorm or towards anything else, because the best thing about plunging into dorm life is finding out things about yourself that you never knew before.

When Justin Ferenzi isn’t blogging, he’s obsessively refreshing his email account for blogging-related correspondence. For any and all questions about dorm life at Brown, don’t hesitate to send a message to justin_ferenzi@brown.edu

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