Reflecting back on the initial meeting that started it all, I remember the original name of the weekend programming idea was going to be, “Masterpiece Theatre.” The current assistant residence director of Day Hall and I were unsure if that name captured the essence of this idea we were working on.
With over 600 first year residents that would be living in Day Hall during the academic year, we were unsure how much success this idea would have. We only knew that several offices had spoken to us during our senior staff training about students feeling bored at night and especially on the weekends.
The idea was to initiate a consistent weekly program that would serve as a weekend alternative to going out and engaging in behaviors that had potential to be unhealthy. We left that meeting with the decision to allow the staff to name the program since they would be the ones to make this idea become a reality.
Once the Day Hall staff arrived for training, we offered an overview of the idea and asked them to come up with the name. After going back and forth, they came up with the infamous name, ‘Day@Night.’
Day@Night was offered weekly on Saturday nights between 11pm-1am during the academic year. There were 28 Day@Nights hosted with an average of 20 residents participating throughout the year. Each of the 14 RAs was in charge of one weekend, with the on-call staff members acting as supporters. The person at the desk would join the activity at midnight and the other person on-call would join when they were not doing rounds.
The Day@Night activities varied from arts and crafts teaching residents to make paper plate awards, origami, tie dying and Valentine’s Day cards. Popular games and shows were recreated such as Silent Library, Minute to Win It, Ultimate Roommate Challenge, Human Chess (like Harry Potter) and Post Secret. The most popular were competitions such as pool and ping pong tournaments, BINGO and root beer pong. A few took on themes with great success such as Cheeseburger Palooza where residents were taught how to make cookie burgers, Mustache Bash where all of the purchased food could be made into a fabulous mustache, and a Speakeasy where residents were transported back to the roaring 1920’s.
Each Day@Night took on the personality of the RA that put it on and became the avenue where their creativity could best be channeled. The ‘masterpiece’ of this programming initiative was their understandings that there is always someone in the building looking for something to do besides go out and engage in unhealthy behaviors. They also valued the time to continue interacting with residents. Often residents that attended were not only from their own floor but often from other floors, allowing connections to begin with residents throughout the building.
With each Day@Night, there was a unique feel to them because they were personal to the RAs. It was their idea; effort and positivity that made it come to life. While I enjoyed each that I attended, there was one that sticks out in my head because of the simplicity to it, and its resulting success which was phenomenal. We asked one of the RAs to host the ultimate roommate challenge to determine who would represent our hall in the campus-wide roommate game. After an hour of competition the next aspect of the program was to make a “hand showing thanks” that would serve as a feather on a large turkey the RA had created. After the hands were added, the turkey was so full of feathers with resident’s words about what they were thankful for that the turkey fell over as soon as it was posted due to its heaviness. This idea was so simple, yet it had some residents spending countless minutes decorating their hand and to make sure it was included on the turkey. Knowing the RA who facilitated the program, it is no surprise that she would begin the program with a competition, and end with a reflection piece that allowed participants to reflect and be grateful for the things that keep them going.
Through consistency, creativity and staff empowerment this program was able to eliminate the notion of “there is nothing to do on Saturday night but go out and…”
Submitted by Yaileimy ‘Jamie’ Rodriguez, Residence Director at Syracuse University