You don’t know fear until you’ve walked past Wengatz Hall at midnight.
As the moon fades from view behind the clouds, shouting rises in the darkness as the men of Wengatz howl about lost video game matches and chant at the freshmen.
Yet as campus begins to embrace even the strangest behaviors this Halloween season, many students are learning what it means to celebrate a rather divisive holiday in new ways.
For freshman Dalton Jones, resident of Wengatz Hall, this has meant reconnecting with his love of costumes to join the annual Future Great Dads of America tradition. A Wengatz open house, the men of Third East Wengatz each personify a stereotypical type of dad, allowing Jones to make his own Halloween costume for the first time in years.
“I have not done anything big for Halloween since sophomore year of high school,” Jones said. “Just because I’m too old.”
But he never aged out of the enjoyment he gets from making homemade Halloween costumes, something he did growing up as well.
Yet Jones also noted that the Future Great Dads of America isn’t directly tied to Halloween, making it a gentler transition for students like Caleb Heffron, who didn’t grow up celebrating the holiday.
A freshman in Samuel Morris Hall, Heffron said the main reason he never participated in any Halloween traditions was because of his family’s moral values.
“My mom is not a fan of the history of Halloween and even a lot of the concept of trick or treat initially being about demons,” Heffron said. “My mom was hardcore.”
Yet Heffron is looking forward to branching out this year.
He’s planning on buying a costume for the first time in his life, and is looking forward to participating in some of his hall traditions as they unfold.
“I don’t really know what they have planned as much,” he said. “It’s kind of a mystery.”
But Heffron is looking forward to the surprise nonetheless, jumping into the Halloween experience headfirst.
Still, with such a variety of student backgrounds on campus, the celebrations change as much by building or dorm as they do by the individual.
Levi White, a super-senior from Gerig Hall, was willing to offer his opinion on the matter.
“Obviously, anything adult-themed should (not) be pushed and should not be encouraged,” White said. “It’s not real. It’s not meant to be real and it’s just a night to just have fun. And it should be fine.”
White’s Halloween background was also less conservative, however.
Buying costumes each year and touring the neighborhoods with friends, White never felt much pressure to conform his costumes to Christian ideologies.
“The costumes we wore were either video game costumes from any video game we were playing or they — it was just being extremely like spooky scary. Nothing too crazy,” he said. “But like, we never got to that point. We were kind of just like, ‘oh, we’ll dress up as the things we enjoy.’”
And it’s the joy of Halloween that Taylor tries to emphasize, regardless of dorm or class.
As a Christian campus, the balance between the Halloween origin and our own beliefs is a fine line to walk, yet as we celebrate each other with love, it’s a balance Taylor is committed to striving toward.
A library costume contest is matched with dorm-room trick-or-treating events. The Future Great Dads of America is paired with what remains a secretive Sammy tradition.
The carved pumpkins dotting many of the residence halls also demonstrate that regardless of their backgrounds, Taylor students continue to celebrate the Halloween season, and are building community with each other through whatever opportunities come their way.
One has only to look to the men of Wengatz to hear proof of that.