Among William Jewell College’s approximately 1,000 students who share a single dining hall are individual organizations, unique to each dorm, that plan activities for residents called hall councils.
Semple Hall residence director (RD) Greg Irr serves as an advisor to Semple’s hall council. Though decisions, budgeting and appointment of officers are handled entirely by the students, it is up to the RDs to make sure that each event “fosters community” and that the officers are trained to do their jobs and handle funds correctly.
Speaking of funds, where does the money come from? Each hall has a determined amount of money from Student Life. The amount each hall is granted depends on the number of students residing there. Semple has the largest amount of students and therefore the largest budget.
This is not to say that larger halls necessarily enjoy better event calendars. Two events put on by the upper-class halls will allow students to go laser-tagging, occurring April 4, and paintballing, occurring April 30. Most events, however, are open to only one hall and are designed to create a stronger sense of community within that one location. For Semple, a recent, memorable one was a night at the Kansas City Zoo. Other halls have gone to places like Sky Zone.
Events such as these are especially important for first-year dorms, where establishing a sense of community early on is a major goal. Hall councils for these students form after homecoming.
“We’ve had multiple food nights, including ‘increpetion’ and national waffle day. We’ve also had Ely Pageant and a karaoke night,” said Trevor Nicks, junior biochemistry and ACT-In major and Ely residence assistant (RA).
The first-year dorms are also planning “First-Year Prom,” which will be an event for all first-year students to attend in Ely.
“Eaton hall council has sponsored several activities for our residents from a cookout at the beginning of the year, cookies at the end of the semester and planning a fancy schmancy prom at the end of April,” said Luce-Virlynn Apollon, first-year nursing and ACT-In major and Eaton hall council president.
Hall council projects aren’t limited to events. Hall t-shirts, new TVs and ping-pong tables are just a few additional ways that funds can be utilized. Prizes for competitions like March Madness brackets are also the result of hall council planning.
“I think hall councils are important because the immediate community in which we live has a significant impact on the perspective through which we view life. The purpose of hall council is to provide opportunities for that community to come together and get to know each other through making memories. It’s an opportunity to improve the bonds with the people who make up the community,” said Abby Freeman, sophomore Oxbridge music major and Semple hall council president.
Though hall council officers are elected near the beginning of each school year, they aren’t the only ones capable of participating. As stated above, hall council meetings are open to all residents. All one has to do to turn an idea into an event is stop by and let the process take care of the rest.
“Hall councils are important because we are a direct link to the student life of the residents in our halls. We represent and work for our peers to have a fab dorm life,” said Apollon.
Additional reporting by Brianna Steiert. Feature image by Kyle Rivas.