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Students discuss process, benefits of planning dorm dances

| Monday, October 2, 2017

As the semester approaches fall break, students are stepping into the swing of dorm dance season.

Students hold letters spelling out the name of their dorm, Walsh Hall, at Walsh Hall's "Out of this World" dance.Courtesy of Brigid Walsh

Students hold letters spelling out the name of their dorm, Walsh Hall, at Walsh Hall’s “Out of this World” dance.

Sophomore and Dunne Hall dance commissioner Zachary Spitzer said many students invest hard work into organizing the dances.

“I think the big thing that some people don’t realize — I know I didn’t necessarily realize it when I first signed up — is that planning dances takes a lot of work,” he said. “It’s not an easy thing in the slightest.”

The most challenging part of planning, Spitzer said, is simply getting started. Making important decisions such as the date, venue and theme takes time.

“You might think ‘Okay, just pick a venue, pick a date, and you’re good to go’ or something like that,” he said. “Instead, there’s a lot of stuff you have to keep in mind.”

The date is always chosen first — sometimes as early as the end of the previous school year — often by the hall’s president and vice president, not the dance commissioners, he said.

But once the date is set, the commissioners take over in deciding all the details that make a dorm dance successful.

For instance, “venue-hunting,” Spitzer said, can be difficult because many dances occur on the same nights, so multiple dorms are vying for the same location.

“If you’re doing it on a day that happens to have a lot of SYRs, you have to be able to plan quickly and decide what venue you want,” he said.

Commissioners send venue requests to the Student Activities Office early in the year, he added, especially if they want a popular location such as Jordan Hall.

This year, Pasquerilla East Hall’s SYR will take place under a tent on North Quad. One of dorm’s dance commissioners, sophomore Maddie Stanton, said part of her job is handling unexpected details, such as bathrooms, music and lighting.

But a more exciting element to plan, she added, is the dance’s theme — a task for which dance commissioners will often consult the rest of their dorm.

“We always try to get the input of the dorm,” Stanton said. “We’re ultimately able to decide what’s going to happen, but we definitely listen to the dorm.”

Pasquerilla East Hall’s commissioners sent out dorm-wide polls to vote on their theme, ND Dads and Middle School Fads, she said. It began as one student’s idea and gained popularity by word-of-mouth before being officially voted as the theme.

“Someone in our dorm came up with it,” Stanton said. “We didn’t automatically decide on it. We really liked the idea, but in order to get everyone’s opinion, we sent out a poll.”

Dunne’s commissioners likewise listen to their dormmates. Spitzer said he thinks everyone should have the opportunity to play a role in the planning.

“I feel like the SYR is much more of a dorm-involved event in regards to the fact that the dorm should help decide how it’s run,” he said.

Student involvement might affect how popular SYRs are among students.

“It’s highly promoted in our dorm,” Stanton said. “It’s a really big sense of community and, for that reason, a lot of people like to go.”

For both Stanton and Spitzer, seeing the final product of their hard work is their favorite part of planning dorm dances.

Stanton said it’s fun to see people get excited about something she’s been excited about for months.

“When you go to the dance, you’re excited at the last minute,” she said. “But I’ve been planning this for a long time.”

Spitzer said he’s looking forward seeing all his hard work pay off.

“Easily for me, the most fun part is just watching it all come together,” Spitzer said. “It’s a very satisfying feeling.”

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