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Straz Tower events promote unity among residents

Students participate in elevator

Photo by Kate Holstein

Students participate in elevator "Cash Cab," where they are asked riddles.

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At Straz Tower, a schedule of programs each weekend work to bring residents together. The We Are Straz events stemmed from the Office of Residence Life’s emphasis on community within the residence halls this year.

The theme of the hall events is “We ARE”, in which “ARE” stands for “Act, Reflect, and Engage.” This mantra represents the ways ORL wants the residence halls and the students living in them to understand community, Kristina Davila, Hall Director of Straz Tower, said. Events at different residence halls are put on by ORL every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Davila took over as Straz’s Hall Director this academic year. A Marquette alumna, Davila said she knew coming into the job that she wanted to bring all four of the Straz Living Learning Communities— sophomore students, honors students, Nuestro Hogar and Dorothy Day — into a cohesive unit.

“My goal to start was to make it one team, one community, one building — and so that’s what we started with,” Davila said. “We got the RAs on board with really (the idea that) we are one community and (asked ourselves) ‘How can we get our residents around that?’”

Straz decided to get creative with its ideas.

“We changed a lot of the different programs that some of the halls did … We put our own twist on it,” Davila said.

One event the residence hall put on was their own version of “Cash Cab” in the elevator. The event was based on the popular Discovery Channel game show where everyday people hop into a seemingly normal cab, however are asked riddles and receive a cash prize for every correct answer. Participants have three chances to answer correctly, then they must exit the cab.

However, in this version of “Cash Cab” run by Straz Tower Resident Assistant Jaci Cain, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, that was not the case.

Instead, Cain took a chair and sat in the elevator, eagerly awaiting the opening of the elevator doors with riddles and candy ready to be given to lucky winners.

“The doors would open, and people kind of jumped back a little,” Cain said.

Despite initial hesitations, most people entering the elevator decided to participate in “Cash Cab.” Riders soon began to work together to solve some of the riddles.

Cain said she was excited people began to work on the riddles together, regardless of whether they knew each other or not.

Roommates Andrew Braatz and Cody Hulon, sophomores in the College of Arts & Sciences, were two of the lucky contestants to participate in the elevator “Cash Cab.”

Braatz and Hulon noted their initial surprise when they got into an elevator to find one of the Straz RAs sitting in a chair. Though they weren’t as successful as they hoped in getting the answers correct, they appreciated the goal of the event.

“I think they are great at building community and getting people out of their rooms,” Braatz said.

Besides “Cash Cab,”  Straz has done other events including a scavenger hunt through the building, “speed friending”, as a way to make friends and creating signs in support of participants of Al’s Run.

In the future, residents can look forward to more events, including flower and herb planting, “Minute to Win It,” craft and game nights, sock tie-dying, “Straz’s Got Talent,” and another game of elevator “Cash Cab.”

ORL already began to assess the success of certain events compared to others and see what can be done differently for next year.

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