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Cavanaugh Hall known for 82 years of history, dorm spirit

| Friday, September 21, 2018

Editor’s note: This article is one in a series profiling the dorms. Previous articles have covered dorms built before Cavanaugh Hall.

Cavanaugh Hall is known for its school and dorm spirit, having been voted Spirit Champions several times and showing up in full force at every pep rally. It is also known for its signature events, like Cavanaugh Cornhole and their “Ready, Set, Glow” run. But what Cavanaugh’s 211 residents seem to be most proud of is the community they have fostered in their building.

“We support each other. We look out for each other,” junior Emma Brady, one of Cavanaugh Hall’s four co-presidents, said.

Junior Madi McGhee, another one of Cavanaugh’s co-presidents echoed this sentiment.

“We’re a special breed here … We have upperclassmen who genuinely love the dorm … and want to connect with girls of younger classes,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Madi McGhee
Cavanaugh Hall, a women’s dorm since 1994, has been voted Spirit Champions several times. The dorm was founded in 1936.

Cavanaugh Hall was built in 1936. It was named after Fr. John W. Cavanaugh who was president of the university from 1905-1919. At the time it was built, it was expected that Cavanaugh was as far north as campus would ever extend, which is why there are no doors onto North Quad in Cavanaugh.  In 1994, after being a men’s dorm for 58 years, Cavanaugh Hall was converted into a women’s dorm. Within the first few years, the dorm became known as the Chaos, was named Best Women’s Dorm on Campus in 2000 and 2003 and was named Hall of the Year in 2009.

Despite only being a women’s dorm for 24 years, the presidents said that already Cavanaugh’s alumni network of women is starting to grow and Cavanaugh has a close knit community.  

“I honestly feel that any Cav girl would do anything to help another Cav girl,” Brady said.

McGhee believes that small community in the dorm and the numerous Cavanugh traditions help to foster this unity.  

“Every dorm has their traditions and it starts with your RAs and your seniors,” she said. “You walk in and they’re so welcoming and they want you to be there that it just kind of trickles down. I personally was very close with my freshman year RA so now because I loved that and that connection, I want to be that person for an underclassman. And I think that’s an environment that has been here for a while and continues to grow.”

Cavanaugh hall staff and student leadership have tried to promote this camaraderie by organizing events in the dorm including Big Sis/Lil Sis, a program that matches first year and transfer students with upperclassmen, and Chat and Chew where RAs open their doors to their section every Tuesday night to talk and share some free food.

Chat and Chew is great because it gives the dorm a chance to catch up and unwind at the start of the week,” Margaret Meserve, one of Cavanaugh’s seven RAs, said. “It’s fantastic because there really are no time constraints or the formality of like a normal section meeting. Instead, people come and go as they want … My favorite part though, both as an RA and a resident, is that Chat and Chew gives me a chance to see people that I normally only pass in the hallway.”

Cavanaugh’s new rector Joanna Cecilio also hosts a similar event every Wednesday morning called “Cup of Jo” where she opens her door to chat with and feed Cavanaugh residents.

A new rector is not the only change Cavanaugh is undergoing this year though. For the first time, Cavanaugh also has four co-presidents which McGhee said, “Gives us a lot of room to try new things.”  The four presidents are McGhee and Brady as well as juniors Rylie O’Meara and Emily Black. The presidents are also hoping to grow some of Cavanaugh’s events and get more of the community involved.

“We are encouraging commissions to dream as big as possible … and we’re also hoping to have more commissions doing different things,” Brady said.

Cavanaugh also extends its caring to organizations off campus including St. Margaret’s House and the Visitation Maternal-Child Health Center in Nairobi, Kenya which Cavanaugh’s priest in residence Fr. Bob Dowd visits every year.

At the end of the day though, whether playing interhall sports, planning recycling initiatives or studying together in the basement, Cavanaugh loves Cavanaugh, Brady said.  

“When I’ve had a hard day, the exciting part is that I get to come back to Cav and you know people’s doors will be open and everyone is doing homework in the basement or sitting in the hallway,” she said. “ … The unique thing is I can go out there and do whatever hard tests, anything out there, and then come home and know that these are my people. This is where I want to be.”   

McGhee said she agrees.

“Cavanaugh is home,” she said. “It’s just the place where your family is.”

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