Before the Freshmen: Hall Staff Preparations
Published: Friday, August 27, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 23, 2011 16:05
The hall staff, Resident Advisors (RAs) and Freshmen Advisors (FRADs), are behind a sort of pre-term magic, making a residence hall into a home. It is a process that comes to an often frantic finale the night before move-in.5 p.m. It is time for a final supply run for Brittany Stokes, the RA of Ramsay 400, and FRAD Biz Schill. Their list ranges from contact paper (which they never found), to caution tape (which they did).
Down on Chiles 100, the brother hall of both Ramsay 400 and Chiles 300, Marshall Smith and Stephen Tagert are already close to finishing with their decorations at 7 p.m. Smith, the hall's RA, was able to do a great deal of the work over the summer, knowing that there simply would not be enough time or manpower come the start of term.
This year, smaller halls have only two hall staff members - the RA and a solitary FRAD. In the past, all halls have had four staff members. "I would have liked to have more (FRADs)," said Smith. "Last year we had two more FRADs and half the residents."
Added Tagert, "I am liking that I get half off housing, but it would be nice to have more help. We can definitely handle it, but there are fewer guys to share responsibility with."
Polishing up the hall by posting red Monsters, Inc. "scare light" dots above the doors, the pair plan to go to bed early.
An early night is not on the mind of their sister hall a few floors up. 8 p.m. is only the beginning. "We're running on adrenaline right now; there's so much to do," said Schill, gesturing to the dozens of hand drawn doors lining the hall floor. Little is on the walls, but not for lack of work - the entire kitchen is brimming with their crafting.
On Haynesworth 300, the situation is similar. "The walls are sort of bare, but we're actually a lot farther along than it appears," said Randy Drafts, FRAD alongside Ryan Hampton and RA Andrew Kopp, pointing out the already-made decorations and cutouts lying on top of the fridge. "We still have a lot of time."
In contrast to her brother hall's bare walls, RA Emily Powell and FRAD Rachel Donaldson are adding to already well-covered walls, with a Ramsay 200 sign posted, easily recognizable as a play on the Indiana Jones title graphic.
At the advice of Laura Estep, a graduated RA popping back in to pay Powell, her resident from last year, a visit, the two are preparing, at 9 p.m. to take a late dinner break. "You have a long night ahead of you," said Estep, remembering her own three years in Powell's place.
Though Powell was a member of Estep's hall her freshman year, commuting had an impact on her own freshmen experience. She understands the struggles ahead the three commuters paired with her hall face, and wants them to know that "they do have a place here, even though they don't have a bed."
By 10:30 p.m., Smith and Tagert on Chiles 100 are finished, getting the early bedtime they had planned on. Thrilled that the housing staff roaming the halls have approved of their decorations, the two are excited to show off their kitchen bulletin board, which offers advice on how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse.
Their sister hall is not heading to bed any time soon. To the strains of "Dancing in the Moonlight," Stokes and Schill are still feverishly working.
Two floors down, the transformation into an Indiana Jones cavern continues. By 11:30 p.m., curtains adorn the kitchen, and tiki torches, complete with tissue paper flames, are mounted every few yards down Ramsay 200.
The nametags, which add a touch of glitter to the Indiana Jones theme, were made weeks in advance, as were the elaborate murals, a collaboration with Anna Hicken, an art major and friend of Powell's. "All the planning has been going on for a long time," said Donaldson.
But planning in advance can only take the hall staff so far. "The problem with the decorations is that we're on such a limited budget," said Powell. "We can make a lot on a shoestring budget, but the little things add up." Tape, their most valuable tool, is $6 a roll.
An hour later, Powell puts the final touches on her letter to the freshmen's parents just after 1 a.m. Though tired, she and her FRAD feel good about the way their hall looks.
"It's all about how much you want to give to the freshmen," said Donaldson. "Emily and I want to put in all the details - every single little thing." The hall complete, they head to bed.
Just before 2 a.m., their brother hall follows suit, the last paper rat lining the hallway in place and the Holy Grail centered on the kitchen table.
As the rest of Lakeside sleeps, work continues on Ramsay 400.
Not until Stokes is falling asleep taping up the three-foot-tall Mike Wazowski does the pair agree to sleep; it is 3:30 a.m.
Halls decked, the campus awaits the arrival of freshmen, who begin streaming in just a few hours later at 8:30 am.