By Hannah Stumpf | Echo
When the leaves start falling, it is time to start planning open houses. Usually themed, this is a chance for floors, wings or sometimes entire dorms to show some creativity to visiting students from other dorms.
Largely, this falls on the PAs of Taylor dorms to set the bar. Sophomore David Fletcher, PA on Fourth Gerig (FOSO), is new to the position this year. For him, he finds the need to stick too closely to traditions or past themes challenging.
"The biggest problem for me is probably creativity because I know what has worked well in the past, and I'm comfortable following through with old ideas. But a lot of people don't want to go to the same open house every year . . . so thinking of new ideas and fun ways to generate new kinds of content is probably one of the biggest hurdles I have to overcome,".
To do this, Gerig has an open house planning committee that gets together to generate new ideas. The PAs will be responsible for delegating and handling logistics.
For Junior Savannah Ireland, PA of First East Olson, the challenge will be doing something that has never been accomplished before.
"Olson does the Christmas open house as a whole, so we definitely participate in that, but I can't think of any that we've done in the past, which is kind of weird," Ireland said.
Ireland and her co-PA began discussing possible themes this summer, but the challenges did not stop there. Since First East Olson does not have a lounge this year, Ireland and her co-PA need volunteers to convert their rooms for the open house and have people willing to decorate.
Participation can be the most meaningful contribution made to an open house.
"There's a great deal of ownership of the floor and the dorm as a whole when freshmen get involved because then you can point at the things as you're walking through the floor and be, 'hey, I did that!' Or people are talking about it looking really good and you're like, 'wow, I was part of something bigger, I was involved and invested in and put my time into it." This sense of community also extends to the campus as a whole," Fletcher said.
"The fact that you're getting to bring people together from all over campus to come visit your dorm is a really meaningful experience because we're not isolated units - each dorm - and we live together in community with each other so to invite other people into your space and experience your culture and . . . the things that you love is a really meaningful thing," said Fletcher.
For Freshman Lucas Rupp of First West Wengatz, participation is a priority because the events sound fun. Upperclassmen hyping up the open houses will lead to freshmen helping out.
For Ireland, visiting open houses is an important part of the creative process. This gives students a chance to ask other men and women from other dorms what they like in an open house and get an idea for what can be improved. In addition, it is a chance for wing and floor members to see each other once the school year gets busy. For Rupp, showing other students what his community on First West Wengatz looks like is a big draw.
The main advice is to plan ahead. Ireland is meeting with her wing three weeks in advance, and for Fletcher, as early as October. This way, floor and wing members will have an opportunity to share their ideas and vision for the open house with leadership. Getting the word out about an open house is equally important.
"I think open houses can be really fun and a great way to get out of the dorm and see other wings and other ways people live and sometimes it's just fun to see friends you have from class in their element on their floor and in their space," said Ireland.