Programming Party: College Horror Stories

Type: Educational

Topic: Alcohol Education, Sexual Harassment, Roommate Problems, Fire Safety

Cost: $15

Materials: Ladder, Sheets, Chocolate, Marshmallows, Graham Crackers

Overview:

This program was a HUGE success! I was a little worried because it was on a Sunday on Labor Day weekend, but we had over 20 people come, which is about 10% of my new hall. I planned this program with one of my fellow RA’s and we thought it wouldn’t come together in time, but it did!

We took the theme of one of our hallways, College is In-Tents and spun a program out of it by having our residents go “camping” inside while we gathered around the “campfire”, which was actually a string of red and white lights balled up in the middle of the room. Residents were encouraged to wear their pajamas, and the program started around 7:30 and lasted until 9.

When most of the residents had gathered around the “campfire” we distributed college horror stories that we found off of the internet, and others that came from our personal experiences. A resident would read the horror story, while holding a flashlight under their chin for dramatic effect.

Afterward, we would ask the residents how they would address this particular horror story, what policy had been broken, and what resources were available to them. At first, I had to give them the correct answers, but after reading another similar horror story, the residents were able to correctly answer the questions. The residents were also encouraged to discuss the problems and we got to see the different perspectives of our residents as well as personal stories from our residents who had lived in the hall previously.

A conversation that went very well was our sexual assault conversation. We shared a story and explained how this could happen to anyone, not just females, not just in a dark alley at night. But also to males, in a well light area, surrounded by many people. We had a resident share her sexual assault story and how she came to terms with it, many residents talked about ways to make sure that they felt safe walking around campus. One of our male residents said something along the lines of, “Look guys, if you are walking alone at night on or around campus, make sure you give people enough space, so it doesn’t look like you are following them or making them uncomfortable.” Another person said, “If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted, talk to them before you take the step to report it yourself, they already feel powerless, so even if you are trying to help them, if you make choices about their lives without them, then they will feel bad”.

Prep:

I made s’mores in advance by laying about 15 graham crackers down, assembling the s’more, and then leaving off the top graham cracker. I put the oven on broil, and let them cook for about 3-5 minutes, so that it would cook from the top bottom, and give the marshmallows and nice golden almost char-like surface. Then I took them out and put the other graham cracker on top.

I printed out two copies of the horror stories, one that the residents read which was cut into slips, and the other that I kept. The one that I kept had the full stories as well as the bullet points that I wanted to make sure were emphasized in our discussion.

To make the tent entrance, I took two sheets, one fitted and one not fitted, and draped them over a ladder. We tucked the non fitted sheet under the fitted sheet, and then the loose ends were wrapped underneath the ladder foot. Residents had to crawl under the ladder and into to tent to get inside.

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