If you are like me, once you get through opening, there is a down time that occurs. Kind of like coming down off a high. That is where I am at today. Some cool stuff happened this year at our opening and week of activities. Things that make me remember why I do what I do. First the “geek” stuff:
Last year, we did the “Game of Thrones” for our final activity prior to classes starting. We didn’t tell anyone what it was – including our res life staff. We thought the mystery component would help the “viral” factor. And it did. Basically, we played musical chairs – last year with 40 chairs. This year, for “Game of Thrones II,” we had 100 chairs set out. Now this isn’t any kind of record (a school in China played it with over 8,000 chairs) but for us – it was a pretty big deal. You couldn’t imagine the hype this game created. When we went from 100 students down to our final four, and three of the four areas were represented, it was awesome! A simple game like musical chairs – with over 350 college students cheering on four of their own to be declared the victor! It was amazing – and I think using “the game of thrones” as the Segway helped. And to hear our students calling it “epic” was a thing of beauty.
Here’s another idea for you. We wanted to do it this year, but it was too much for the staff. We had the idea to do “Hunger Games.” Things such as Oreo Cookie tournament. Pie Eating contest. Games from “Minute to Win It” that involved food. Please feel free to take that idea – especially if you are thinking about a “geek week”
But the story I wanted to share with you is a little less geeky and more “res lifey.” So this year, we took a risk and put on four “awareness socials” during opening week. We worked with campus departments and had an LGBT+, Asian Pacific Islander, Latino, and African American awareness social. Four different socials for our residents to attend. For some of our staff who are still in the “colorblind” stage of racial identity, this was difficult to understand why we’d do such activities, but fortunately we have some great RDs this year who helped explain the value. But these events were amazing – not necessarily for the numbers, but for what happened.
I tell this story, not to pat myself (or our staff on the back) but to remind us why we do what we do. At one of the socials in particular, I met a resident from one of our halls (a smaller suites building). She was quiet, shy, and didn’t speak very loud at all. I introduced myself, and connected her with one of the campus staff who was there. Then I met ANOTHER resident who was just as quiet, shy, and a little timid. When I asked her what hall she was from, it was the same hall from the woman I met earlier. I immediately asked her if she knew this other resident, and she said she did not. So I walked her over and introduced them to one another – telling them they lived in the same building. Then the magic happened. The rest of the event, the two of them were inseparable. And later on (4 hours later), when I was setting up “Game of Thrones” there were the two of them together – eating ice cream, sitting in the chairs about to participate in our musical chairs event. That is why we do what we do. More than how many people attended our events (we had record turn out this year) or the caliber of those events. Our mission is to connect students to each other. To help them feel like they belong. And after the week I’ve had, I can say our staff has accomplished that mission, and this is a good feeling! So now, after being down off that high, the memory of connecting two students brings me back up again, and I am ready for the year!
So what are you fun activities that other campuses can steal (er, borrow)? What are some of you favorite moments opening your buildings? Please share in the comments below!