The ol' sock on a doorknob

My wife were watching a show tonight (ok, ok, it was a few season 4 episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210), and a couple of characters had the ol’ agreement where if one was hooking up, there’d be something hanging on the doorknob. It’s a trope that shows up quite a bit in TV and movies. But neither my wife nor I, who both had plenty of college roommate situations, never placed a sock on a doorknob nor had a sock placed by a roommate. She even lived in a dorm (I didn’t.). I’m convinced it’s largely a plot device for tv shows.

Anyone here ever experience this situation IRL? Ever hung a sock (or tie) on a doorknob to keep a roommate out during a night of passionate fornication?

All I know is that it was mentioned at college as what to do (twenty years ago). I never personally saw it used (or used it myself).

My roommate and I wrote “FARB” (“find another room, buddy”) on the dry-erase board when we needed the other to stay out. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the sock or something else tied around the doorknob bit, but I didn’t pay super close attention to other people’s rooms. It seemed that most roommates had some sort of code. The exile would never last over night, and the long-term effectiveness of it would depend on using it judiciously and hopefully as equally as possible.

Never saw, nor used, a sock, but my roommate in my senior year had some sort of a mechanism which one could use to essentially jam the door shut from the inside (it had a little “flag” which stuck out of the edge of the door, near the doorknob, to indicate to someone on the outside of the door that it was in use). He showed me how to use it at the start of the year, and wound up being mildly annoyed that I used it several times, but he never had cause to use it himself. :smiley:

Is it still common in the us for college roommates to be actual room mates, with a shared room?

That was never common in the UK AFAIK. And was unheard of when I went to university in the 1990s (even though the standards of the university-provide accomodation were notoriously crappy)

Where I went to school 20 years ago, yes. Up to 3 people would share the same bedroom space, which was basically just a desk and a bed (and closet) and space to move around to get to them. It wasn’t seen as unusual at all. I think most people preferred the arrangement to living in single rooms where your only social interactions was in the common rooms that might have had 20-40 people have access to.

Midwestern Presbyterian women’s college in the late ‘60s-early ‘70s~the accepted signal was a hand towel over the doorknob. If the room door was toweled you turned away, you didn’t even knock or inquire further.

My roommates and I had a system in place for the dry erase board next to the door. It got used, but not anywhere as close as much as we hoped it would…

It was very common when I was in college in the '80s – at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I lived in the dorms for 4 years, 98+% of the dorm rooms were doubles (there were a very small number of singles, which only upperclassmen qualified to get).

My nephew, and my goddaughter, are both currently in college, and both lived in the dorms as freshmen. My nephew had one roommate, and my goddaughter had three roommates (due to overcrowding in the dorm, they had four girls assigned to a three-person room). In both cases, yes, they actually shared a room.

I think that it’s becoming more common for U.S. colleges to have dorms that are either (a) “single” rooms, or (b) suites in which each person has their own bedroom, plus a common area, but such setups aren’t anywhere near universal, I don’t think.

I briefly visited a friend in his dorm at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo about two years ago, and the plan (b) that you describe here is how that dorm was set up. OTOH, the vast multi-story parking lot had NO visitor parking spaces! And there was certainly no other place to park on campus.

Hahahah. Just have to mention this… Right now the thread below this one is titled ‘So, about the big bang’. Hahahahhh.

Is it common for two people to share a dormitory room? A friend went to Michigan Tech in the 1980’s. At least back then - that school had a policy of “overbooking” the freshman class , accepting more students than there were dorm rooms available. For the students who showed up after all of the dorm rooms were full, the school placed them in one big open room. (Think - army barracks.) These students were then moved into rooms shared with 2-3 others, as they became available. That is, as other students dropped out.

Sometimes it took a few weeks to empty the big open room.

Which makes the “sock on the door knob” academic.

Definitely true in 1969 when I was a freshman, though we used ties - much easier to keep on than socks. I was outside in one case. I had a single by the time it became a relevant issue for me.

I lived in university-owned apartments, not dorms, back in the late 70s/early 80s. 2 or 3 guys per bedroom with 1 or 2 bedrooms per apartment.

I barged in on my one roommate & his GF once; they were not amused. If something / anything was hanging on the doorknob, it was too subtle for me to notice in my perpetual haste. Ref dear Bipp above, it sure wasn’t anything obvious like a hand towel.

But yes, stories of rubber bands or something else on the doorknob as a subtle keep-out signal were part of the culture. Apparently one more honored in the breach at my place.

It certainly wasn’t preferred when I was in college. Single rooms were rare and much sought after. I hated having a roommate (until I was able to get my gf as my roommate. That was fine)

Certainly I preferred a single room. For the room draw near the end of my freshman year, I didn’t have a roommate lined up, and there were no singles available by the time the draw got to me. Still, I was able to get a single when it came time to assigning me a room during the summer by looking at which rooms weren’t actually going to be used (people decide not to come back, or whatever). I was absent the next spring and thus couldn’t participate in the room draw, and again still got a single when I returned for the fall. I then lived in the Sci-Fi interest house the next year, for which there were two singles and 4 doubles, but there was no arguing over who would get the singles - only two of the 10 people accepted to live in the house wanted them. Or at least, there were very clearly 4 pairs of the people accepted who had far less of a problem with each other than the remaining two might have had. I doubt I would have had a problem if I had to room with the guy who got the other single, but others seemed to want the roommates more than we did.

Just so we’re clear, my school guaranteed school-owned housing for everyone who was a student; this was a major selling feature for high-end private liberal arts schools like the one I attended, and I’m pretty sure most state schools you had to find your own housing after your first two years.

Some people on my floor did this when I was an undergrad in the 1970s. Only it wasn’t a sock – they just put a rubber band on the doorknob.

So, yes, it’s real, and not a TV plot device. Private space was valued in the dorms, and people with roommates had to come up with arrangements like this. I felt sorry for one of the guys – he never had a date, it seemed, but his tall and better-looking roomie frequently used the room with his steady date.

(For the record, neither my roommate nor I ever did this my freshman year – we never had dates, either. After that, I was lucky enough to get a room to myself. Not that it mattered – I still didn’t have any dates. But I could have brought one back to my room any time I wanted. So there’s that.)

Exactly the same. We’d draw an X in the lower left corner.

That’s funny. I was going to say that I’d never heard of the sock thing while in college—but I had heard of the rubber band thing. What you gave as an example, I was going to give as a counterexample.

At Baylor this was typical when I attended in the late 90s. Most of the rooms were for two students, with an occasional three person room. There weren’t any rooms for just one person, at least not that I was aware of. I moved out of the dorms junior year into student apartments, and most of those were also arranged to have two people per bedroom. I never saw a sock used in this particular manner during those four years.