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  • Collegian staff

Reverse trick-or-treat, contests and more: RAs get creative with Halloween hall events

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Piper Lehr

Staff writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for large-scale in-person events to transpire on campus, and Halloween is no exception. Angel Park, a Willamette Events Board (WEB) representative, said in an email that sometimes WEB partners with student organizations to throw fun activities during Halloween. Last year, for instance, they helped put together a haunted house. However, this year, WEB was unable to do anything of that nature. She said, “unfortunately, that can't be the case this year to protect the campus community but we look forward to bringing other weekly events this semester and the next and hope to have in-person events safely next year if possible." Although large-scale parties are not going to be occurring this year, some RAs have found safe ways to make Halloween fun for their residents. Two Willamette RAs, Becky Heath ‘23 in Kaneko Commons and Julianna Tsang ‘23 in Northwood, described their experiences planning for Halloween during a pandemic.

When asked what Kaneko was doing for Halloween this year, Heath said: “It's really individualized for RAs. The last area-wide [event] was on the 8th, so we won’t have one until after break. We’re still going back and forth on this, if we’re going to have hall-specific events this year, but we don’t have one for Halloween because the timing didn’t work out. But it’s up to everyone what they want to do.” Heath is planning on conducting a “reverse trick-or-treat.” According to her, “Reverse trick or treat is something that RAs have done in the past which is just going up to people's doors and giving them candies and treats or whatever. It’s a good excuse to talk to people but also a good reason to show people they’re valued. And it’s a lot of fun.” In order to make going door to door safe, Heath made sure her hands were clean, and maintained distance while chatting with her hall mates.

Tsang also did something for her hall mates. She said, “I left gift bags filled with candy outside my residents’ doors late at night before Halloween for them so that they woke up and left their room, seeing a surprise!” She also had some insight on what she’s heard other RAs did. “I know some RAs are planning on making gift bags for residents, and some are doing an event on Halloween called spooky succulents and stickers in Matthews. There’ll also be a costume contest with various prizes. Also, I know an RA hosted a Rocky Horror dance party with 6 feet of physical distance.”

Neither Heath nor Tsang feel as if COVID-19 has affected their planning too much. When asked if social distancing restrictions hindered any of her ideas, Heath said, “I don’t think plans would have changed just because we’ve been in COVID for so long. I can’t really speak for what they did last year because I wasn't an RA last year. Last year I didn’t have a Halloween themed area-wide but my RA had a pumpkin painting party for Halloween, and that’s still going on through like RHA and there’s another group doing it, I think Eastside, but there are still things going on that have been going on in the past, just six feet apart.”

Tsang had similar sentiments. She said, “somewhat, but not really. All it takes is getting creative with what you can and can’t do, to figure out what you can do to make the activities you find enjoyable and safe. I do a mix of online and in person events. Some days we hang out in-person, some days it's over Zoom, depending on what activities we have and also for more options for whatever people prefer.”

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