Engi-Queering: the SWUG Chronicles


Volume 1: S.O.S. (“Suffering of Seniors”)


By senior year, I’m retired from my wild days. Or, more accurately, I’m just plain tired. I’ve finally grown into the title “SWUG,” or “Senior Washed-Up Girl,” and it fits better than the first pair of leggings I bought in college that convinced me to toss all my jeans out.

Personally, I believe that “SWUG” is not fully inclusive. For starters, “Senior” implies that I haven’t been entirely done with this institution (both Harvard and the practices of “going to college” and “existing”) since I stepped foot onto campus during Opening Days. I also take issue with being called “Washed-Up” when we all know I haven’t washed my hair in a couple days, but let’s all continue to focus on how well I am pulling off this headband or braid. I also want everyone to recognize that I’m not “Washed-Up” because I’m a girl, and not all girls are “Washed-Up” by graduation. There are more than two genders and more than a million excuses for why I’m not showing up to lecture.

Luckily for the author’s sake, this column is all about me and what a hot mess I am. After four years on more than low heat, plenty of roasting along the way, some especially salty stages, and switching up the recipe for available substitutions, I’m proud to announce that dinner is served. Except, instead of burnt grill order hamburgers, it’s me. And I’m not necessarily dinner, even if I am looking like a snack sometimes. Most importantly, I’m about to make these leftovers last for the next two semesters and you’re all invited to dive on in after saying grace (but I also accept gratitude in the form of Venmo).

Senior year is …

  • Keeping track of the last time you went out (or even just took more than a five-minute shower) by how long your leg hair is getting. And you would think that it grows linearly but you’re starting to notice a more exponential pattern. Or maybe you’ve just really lost all track of time. It doesn’t really matter since you don’t exactly have time to let anyone get close enough to notice.
  • Five Buck Chuck becoming its own food group. Yeah, it ends up being more cork than wine by the time you open it up because you were too cheap to buy the $2 corkscrew literally right next to the rack of pinot grigio, but it’s all about the journey. It’s a bonding experience to strain the wine to remove as much cork as possible after your roommate jabbed away at the bottle with a screwdriver that hasn’t gotten much use out of it. Only a desperate senior sitting down to thesis is willing to disassemble a tea bag to use the cloth part as a strainer tied to the bottle neck while pouring out wine into small plastic cups stolen from your dining hall. The cost of the wine and Uber to Trader Joe’s are immediately worth it once you accept that you’re just setting yourself up for a bonding retreat with your roommates for the night.
  • Wearing the free t-shirt you stole from the activities fair as a sophomore for a club you don’t even do to the class the morning after falling asleep while not completing the PSet due when you walk in.
  • Experimenting with different hairstyles so that you can still go out to a party without having to shower. Space buns are really cute and so fun but, most importantly, you can’t tell that you sweated through a 2 mile walk to your thesis meeting and another 3 hours through lab earlier that day. Partying with friends is less fun if you have to put in more work getting ready than you put in just to get to the actual party.
  • Showing up 10 minutes late to meetings that you planned. Yeah, you texted at 2:48 that you would be running a little late to your 3:00 meeting but you left out the part that it’s because there is zero chance you’re about to walk to the square when there’s a perfectly capable shuttle coming in 20 minutes.
  • Not owning a fresh notebook. Why bother spending money on a brand new notebook for a class for which you, if we’re being honest, aren’t entirely sure you’re going to be going to lecture? You know that you only filled up 75% of your notebook from your Culture & Belief Gen Ed last spring and those extra ~30 pages are plenty to get you through section until at least the first midterm. You’ll figure something else out by then. Or you’ll just start taking notes on your laptop, which will also make the fact that you’ve been iMessaging your roommate throughout class less obvious.
  • Debating whether a class is really all that important because it has lecture on Fridays. Yeah, it’s a requirement but how committed are you really to your concentration? If your concentration was really the one for you it would understand why you need your Fridays to sleep in.
  • Only returning texts to people who gave birth to you, live with you, make out with you, or have some role in getting you paid. Time and energy are especially precious senior year and texting back is such a chore.
  • Having your laptop break and immediately assuming this is a sign from the universe that you should just drop out already. You also likely would have if Harvard Secure was reliable enough to load the info page but you refuse to waste your data on this school.
  • Scheduling dinner with your roommates every night of the week because #NoNewFriends. You know the night your roommate has a studio class until 6:30 but you’re fine to suffer with them because the thought of having to make small talk with your tutor about your post grad plans gives you enough stress while fake smiling to snap a muscle in your cheek for good. Why is “getting a cat that I can make an Instagram account for” not a valid response when asked what you’re looking forward to about graduation?
  • Reminding everyone who owes you money on Venmo that you’re graduating in May and need them to stop holding out on you. If they think you’re above tracking them down after you’ve graduated, they’re dead wrong because you’re willing to send evites inviting them to follow through each month immediately before paying rent.

Hunter Richards (hrichards@college.harvard.edu) is just doing her best.