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Keough Hall implements dorm-wide events, improves community

| Wednesday, March 27, 2019

“Brothers. Scholars. Champions.” is the motto that unites the men of Keough Hall — whether it be through section sports, bringing kangaroos to campus, or attending mass together.

Located on West Quad since 1996, the men of Keough Hall — also known as the “Roos”, after their kangaroo mascot — seek to create an inclusive and strong community among their 277 residents.

“My favorite thing about Keough Hall is the section culture, because it is a really big dorm but there’s that 35-40 guys who you’re super close with. You do everything together. You get meals with them, you play sections sports together and the section culture is a really great way to make a big dorm feel like a small community,” Hammad Choudhury, sophomore and a vice president-elect for Keough Hall, said.

Some sections in Keough compete against each other in section sports such as football in the fall and basketball in the winter and spring, catch up with each other at section dinners on Sunday nights and hang out in their section lounges — all of which is part of the community they have built.

“It’s [section lounges] not the best place to do work, but it’s a good place to sort of wind down and talk to your friends. It’s always central in the section so if someone’s just walking through, it’s easy to have a conversation,” Nick Schleith, junior and current hall president, said.

“I came from a school that had big dorms without a lot of culture,so coming into Keough with the dorm masses and the distinct section cultures was a big change but a welcome one,” Chris Torsell, sophomore and a transfer student, said. “[Keough’s dorm culture] really varies from section to section. I’ve only had half a semester to figure it out … I think it’s just a lot of guys who like to have fun, who don’t care much about privacy. Everyone goes into everyone’s rooms without knocking, which I appreciate. It’s a good culture.”

Next year’s hall president, sophomore Dylan Fritz, attributes a large part of this success to Keough’s history of strong rectors. Keough has a new rector this year, Deacon Brogan Ryan, who became the rector of Keough Hall this year after serving as assistant rector last year.

“Deacon Brogan has done a great job with that [the transition] … That really helps the dorm as well as having someone that is there for you,” Fritz said.

“He loves the community and I think we all know that too … It really feels like the same Keough that it was last year, and it’s all credit to him, I think. He gets to know all of the freshmen and continues to develop relationships with all of the Keough guys that lived in the hall last year,” Schleith said.

This year, Keough’s hall government has implemented new programming that focused more on dorm-wide interactions rather than just section-wide interactions. For instance, Schleith said they have started Keough Thursdays, hoping to engage more residents by hosting things like video game tournaments or a game watch for the first Thursday night football game of the year. Keough also organized a multicultural potluck.

“The guys from the dorm came together and cooked foods that they traditionally grew up with and then the whole dorm came together to eat it. I think we had about 100 guys at that,” Choudhury said.

Fritz wants to expand on these efforts next year. One of his ideas is a Keough mentorship program that would pair underclassmen with an upperclassmen mentor for career and academic advice.

“That way they have a familiar face, someone that’s a friend. It’s not just some random person on campus there for them,” Fritz said.

One campus-wide event that Keough hosts annually is the Keough Chariot race. Featuring handmade chariots and live kangaroos, the event typically draws around 300 people. The money raised at the event goes towards a Holy Cross mission in Kitete,Tanzania. Keough also sometimes sends a resident to the site.

This year, Keough is also reviving Aussie Fest for campus.

“We’re starting an event that used to happen about six or seven years ago called Aussie Fest. It was just a huge cookout that we used to do with O’Neill,” Schleith said.

It will be held this year in the area between the Keough and O’Neill courtyards on Saturday. The event will have yard games as well as a petting zoo including a kangaroo, a yak and a tortoise. The animals come from an exotic animal petting zoo in Ohio, Schleith said.

“Since we weren’t able to have the petting zoo with the kangaroos in the fall for the original chariot race because it got rained out, we’re going to bring it back for this event,” Schleith said.

Schleith said that while their location on West Quad can sometimes make them feel separated from the larger campus community, they still “have a lot of special traditions and really great community within the dorm that separates us from a lot of other halls.”

Or as Torsell puts it, “Go Roos.”

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