Elizabeth Helmkamp – Staff writer
“Deck the Halls” is more than a cheesy Christmas song you’ve heard three or four times on the radio since the beginning of December. It’s also an expectation for dorm resident assistants.
Sophomore Hannah Veldhuisen, an RA in Covenant Hall, decorated her hallway with an ocean theme. Her mom suggested the idea, and she quickly found that decorations were easy to find both at her house and on Pinterest.
“I wanted to use some Bible verses in the hallway,” Veldhuisen said, “because I know those can be encouraging for my girls.” She chose verses that had to do with the theme of the sea. She also found sea-related puns, such as “whale-come,” and included those on the walls as well.
Staci Seaman is an RA in West Hall. Her hallway has a “rustic and adventure” theme. A major inspiration for this theme was her living in Colorado over the summer.
“I wanted it to be kind of outdoorsy, so even if it’s cold and you’re inside, you can still feel like you’re outside,” Seaman said. “I also wanted there to be mountains because there’s a lot of encouragement in the symbol of mountains, whether you’re conquering them or whether you’re on top of them.”
But not all hallways have a decorative theme.
“It’s not actually a requirement for you to decorate your wing,” Seaman said. “I think it might be a requirement to have the names by the doors, but almost none of the guys will have a theme.”
“I’ve noticed that some guys’ pictures will have a running theme through them, but it’s not like their halls are covered in decorations,” Veldhuisen said. “But at Christmastime they like to put lights up, which is really cute.”
“Sometimes people will just pick like a color scheme or an idea, like Rachel’s this year,” Seaman said. “I don’t know if it has a specific theme, but it’s really fun and happy, with polka dots and a lot of colors. On the other side of the game, Brianna [Sterenberg]’s is decorated like a starry night. Her wing has a solar system and stars.”
Veldhuisen said the main reason people choose themes is because that’s what past RA’s have always done.
“I think for the girls specifically, they tell us to make it look pretty, because who wouldn’t mind seeing pretty things on the walls?” said Veldhuisen.
When Veldhuisen first began her RA work, she was surprised by how big the hall felt once she knew she was expected to decorate the whole thing.
“That was kinda stressful,” she said, “but my aunt had suggested that ‘why don’t you put up a big fish net somewhere.’ And I originally thought that wouldn’t fit, but then I saw, ‘oh yeah, it will.’ I luckily also had some rope, so I used that. That was something I hadn’t planned on, but it worked really well.”
Seaman compared the work to decorating rooms, but on a larger scale.
“You want people to feel at home and welcome,” she said. “That’s the main point of doing all the decorating.”
Still, the work is as much for the RAs as it is for those living in the halls.
“I think what was the most fun part about making the decorations over the summer was putting the girl’s names on [the doors],” Veldhuisen said, “just because it made it all so real. As in, ‘These are all the girls that I’m gonna meet when the school year starts, and I’m very excited to meet them and they all have such pretty names and I can’t wait to see the faces behind those names’.”