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Strangers-to-Friends: Classmates Form Bond, Upend Entire Unspoken Seating Chart



It was never meant to be. Janet Donuts ’25 lived in a Morgan single, was rarely seen in Lee’s, and spent her nights poring over the Econ textbooks her family tragically forced her to study to prepare for her eventual takeover of the family business, Dunkin’ Donuts LLC. Jeannette Kelly ’26 lived in a Dodd double, studied Studio Art & Art History, and was allergic to gluten. The two had nothing in common––or so they thought.


Three weeks ago, Donuts approached Kelly at the close of WGSS 180: Feminist Theory, Film, and Fables. “I thought what you said about Judith Butler today was really cool,” Donuts said. “I never would have thought to compare Gender Trouble to the board game Trouble.”


“Oh, thanks,” Kelly replied, “My family’s, like, really into gaming.” This was something Donuts could understand. Much like Kelly’s family was into board games, her family was into multinational chain corporations and the color orange.


Donuts and Kelly started getting meals together every Monday and Wednesday at 12:16pm, as soon as WGSS 180 was over. Once they got past the initial awkwardness of Kelly automatically turning towards Lee’s and Donuts heading straight for the vast, unnamed expanse of round tables by Whitman’s, they became fast friends. They shared their deepest thoughts with each other. Donuts confided in Kelly about her emotionally difficult freshman year, during which the boxes of munchkins her JAs liked to buy for entry snacks were a weekly reminder of the burden she would one day have to bear.


But this seemingly sweet friendship took a sour turn when Donuts and Kelly began sitting together during class. They had always sat on the same side of the room, but never directly next to each other. The fateful day on which they sat side-by-side for the first time sent shockwaves through WGSS 180. So extreme was the anguish from Hollander 241 that the Haybale decided to get in touch with members of the disrupted class.


“Look, I’m all for establishing close female friendships,” commented John McDonald ’24. “I said as much during our discussion of Bottoms, the 2023 feature film directed by Emma Seligman. But I think these two have taken it too far. In Bottoms, Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri realize that their friendship can’t come at the expense of others, especially other women. Some of the people whose seats have been moved are women. And as Greta Gerwig tells us in her 2023 feature film Barbie, I, too, am a woman in this situation, because I am a man without power. I am a man without the power to choose his own seat at the table.”


For their part, both Kelly and Donuts seem happy and free of remorse. “We had to overcome a lot of distance to get here,” shares Kelly. “And by that I mean the distance of the three chairs that separated us in class.”


Here at the Haybale, we’re hopeful that this new bond will be beneficial rather than disruptive. Perhaps Kelly and Donuts are providing a much-needed example of the power of friendship to cross physical barriers. Maybe they’ll do their readings together and figure out what Gender Trouble actually means. More likely, Donuts will try to give Kelly gluten and their friendship will render Kelly unimaginably ill.

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