The Invisibles of Ohio University

Steve Schall has been working for the university for 18 years, yet out of all the students I asked, not one had heard his name before.

So is it a privilege to have your existence recognized? For some of us, it is. The Resident Custodial Services at Ohio University are rarely seen, let alone thanked, for the vital work they provide to the campus area.

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” – Ralph Ellison

For more on the topic of work-related invisibility, read Peter Magdola’s, “Teaching, Learning, and Campus Custodians: Untidying the Conceptualizations of Wisdom in the Academy.”

How RAs celebrate HallOUween

Students were only allowed to use one door this weekend. People were paid to watch the doors to make sure no one snuck in
Students were only allowed to use one door this weekend. People were paid to watch the doors to make sure no one snuck in

Ah Halloween in Athens, you lived up to completely up to my expectations, and boy were they high. I did not think this year’s HallOUween celebration could be anymore boring or slow than last years, but I was wrong.

How can the supposed third largest block party in the nation be so boring one may ask? Well, I was one of many RAs on campus that had to work Friday and Saturday of Halloween weekend. Each year, Housing and Residence Life bumps up all the security for on campus life. Locks are changed so students only have access to one door, wristbands are distributed and required to get back into the halls and every staff member is on duty. These precautions come as a result of the massive influx of people Athens receives for the weekend. People come from all over to experience the bricks of  Court St on Halloween, and for most it is a blast, for RAs, it is a constant battle to stay awake.

RA Halley Davidson shows off her Halloween spirit while on rounds
RA Halley Davidson shows off her Halloween spirit while on rounds

HallOUween preparations begin weeks in advance for RAs. We received documents and went over proper procedure for the weekend three weeks in advance of the holiday. When the weekend does arrive, RAs are present as early as 6 p.m. Friday evening to begin organizing the wristbands to hand out. For my complex, Tanaka-Luchs, we had over 100 registered guests to check in. This process is probably the hardest part of the weekend. Imagine trying to heard a bunch of confused cattle into a room that is clearly not big enough, and then get them to follow a straight line. That’s what it felt like to organize the students and get them the proper wristbands. The line remained outside the door for about an hour and half. Then the real fun began, if one was not on rounds, one was to sit and check wristbands. The thing was that from around nine to around midnight, no one really came back as most were out enjoying the weekend. We had 16 staff members on duty, four of which were checking wristbands, the rest on rounds or on breaks.

My Staff wristband for the weekend. Residents had to wear similar ones, but blue.
My Staff wristband for the weekend. Residents had to wear similar ones, but blue.

Rounds consisted of constantly walking each floor of the building on Friday night, but we changed the role on Saturday, which made it easier, but also made the time go by slower. We stationed a person by the elevator on each floor and they were in charge of making sure no one was doing anything against policy or sneaking in. I was on rounds for three straight hours on Saturday. As the night went on, and I ran out of episodes of “Rick and Morty” to watch, I faced my biggest challenge of the night, staying awake. I actually lost that challenge for about 15 minutes early on, but after hearing reports of a light bulb thief on the loose, I got the kick start I need.

This was my floor at about 12:30 a.m. It was so quiet I could have heard a pin drop
This was my floor at about 12:30 a.m. It was so quiet I could have heard a pin drop

Needless to say HallOUween left much to be desired on my end, but it seems that the precautions taken by Housing and Residence life are a little much. Maybe I was just lucky that our building remained pretty calm throughout the night, but the extra measures taken seem to only add to the lore surrounding the block party. I couldn’t help but wonder that if we didn’t try so hard to keep people out, would it make the festivities less appealing? Adding a $50 charge for students to have a guest sure sounded like it was going to decrease the number of people visiting, but as mentioned before, Tanaka-Luchs saw over 100 guests come to visit.

 

It seems HallOUween will always be a big deal. My father told me about how crazy it was during his time here in the 70s, and despite increased security measures and rules, the party will continue to be one of the best events of the year, except if you’re an RA.