What are the ingredients of a good dorm event?: Schultze-Eldersveld weighs in

Calvin has no fraternities, but the Schultze-Eldersveld dorm president Jackson Doezema said the dorm has “frat energy.” 

On Halloween last fall, the residents of 1st Eldersveld stormed the rest of the dorm dressed as frat boys, throwing candy and making plenty of noise. Although dorm life at Calvin is a far cry from Greek life at bigger schools, SE’s residents and staff report high enthusiasm for dorm life, including dorm activities. So what’s the key to successful events?

According to Doezema, one crucial aspect is getting residents acquainted with each other early. “The [SE] RAs were very good at making things happen early on,” Doezema said, crediting a well-established community with turning out a third of the dorm for a bingo night in September. “SE has a tight-knit, energetic bond.” 

Resident assistants Cecilia Bolling and Thom de Boo both chalk dorm community success up to sophomore leaders. By having active sophomores, the rest of the residents jump in, too. 

“It’s our job to encourage people who make connections on the floor easily to share that,” de Boo said, noting that his floor’s Social Events Team contributes to good turn out for floor activities. In the past, de Boo’s floor has bonded through activities like board games and improv.

On top of having strong student leaders, Bolling said it’s important to seize on what residents are already interested in. “Don’t overthink things, don’t make things harder than they need to be,” she said. Her residents thrift shop all the time, so she made it into an official floor event. 

She also noted that entertainment in the dorms can often be unplanned. Recently, one of her residents was creating art in the hallway and others joined, impromptu. “Things that just happen randomly can sometimes be the most fun,” she said. 

SE resident Erin Hubka said she’s most likely to attend an event that allows residents to talk to one another, like the annual trip to Post Family Farm. She also said advertising in advance is crucial. Otherwise, people don’t show up. 

Even with all of these ingredients in place, events don’t always go to plan. 

“It’s really the luck of the draw sometimes,” Doezema said. On Valentine’s Day, SE’s Residents Hall Executive Team organized an anonymous note delivery service. Doezema didn’t expect many people to take them up on the offer, but residents took the opportunity to write funny messages to friends. 

On the other hand, sometimes events have lower participation than expected.“My goal is for people to be connected,” Bolling said. According to Bolling, it’s great if students find community outside the dorm as well, but dorm events provide “a net for people to fall back on.” 

Creating this net has been a challenge during COVID-19. Doezema said that SE’s RHET was fired up for events after interim, but just when they were getting started COVID-19 cases rose and tighter restrictions were put in place. Still, residents and staff are looking forward to a fun-filled spring. 

For Bolling’s floor, this means splurging with all the SET money they stacked up when events weren’t possible. For Doezema, it means finally getting to do a top secret, highly anticipated dorm tradition. De Boo said he’s talking with his floor’s team about setting up a pinata shaped like a coronavirus. Hopefully, it’ll be a hit.