McDonald Hall’s bonding activity turned into a campus-wide conversation last week when the residents of the dorm’s second floor anonymously chalked the sidewalks with encouraging messages on the evening of Sept. 22.
Resident assistant Julia Curtis, sophomore English major from Mexico City, Mexico, and about 20 of her residents set out around 9:30 p.m. to constructively graffiti the walkways.
“I remember seeing encouraging messages last year,” Curtis said. “They really encouraged me for that week, so I thought we should give that back.”
Laura Harris, freshman undeclared major from Little Rock, Ark., enjoyed the activity.
“We dressed up in all black and took some ninja pictures,” she said. “We looked ridiculous.”
Humor played an important part in the messages, Curtis said. About half were meant to be comical.
Student reactions to the quotes were largely positive – posts on Twitter and Instagram applauded the messages, and some students went out of their way to avoid stepping on the encouragements.
While the messages originally spanned over most of the walkways, the sprinkler system posed an obstacle for certain areas. The sidewalks in front of McKinzie Hall were decorated, but the statements were washed away early in the morning because of the watering cycle.
Curtis said she was pleased with later erasures, however.
“The rain washed it away perfectly on Saturday,” she said. “It was there for a week, and then it was gone.”
Curtis thought the experience was more beneficial to the her hall than to the recipients.
“The point was to be anonymous because we didn’t want to be recognized for it,” she said. “I think we grew closer as a hall by serving other people.”
Harris said she also thought the activity was a good bonding experience.
“I think when you’re encouraging someone, you give the encouragement you want to get,” Harris said. “It’s really neat to see what the other girls wrote, just to see what was on their hearts. It’s really special to be able to express what’s on your heart, too.”