The people at James Law Auditorium last Friday evening could have been diehard Cornell hockey fans or groupies of an eccentric band.
Some painted their faces, some donned posters and some wore moose ears. One man wore a turquoise toga. At regular and irregular intervals, the crowd broke into enthusiastic cheering, whistling and applauding. “R-O-C-K: You rock! You rock!” the crowd chanted to the performers on stage.
The approximately 300 people in the audience were actually resident advisors, hall council members and student leaders who had converged on Cornell for Martyopoly, a conference of the Northeast Regional Affiliate of College University Residence Halls (NEACURH).
The students and their advisors, who came from 32 different schools from as far away as Maine and Massachusetts, participated Friday afternoon through early Sunday morning in activities designed to hone leadership ability, share programming ideas for residence halls and foster interaction among NEACURH members.
According to Conference Chair Vanessa Sisto ’05, Martyopoly – a word play on NEACURH’s mascot, Marty the Moose, and the popular board game monopoly – is the first NEACURH conference that Cornell has ever hosted.
A 15-member conference committee began planning for Martyopoly last February and held weekly meetings to brainstorm and nail down the logistics of hosting 300 people on campus.
Friday evening marked Martyopoly’s opening ceremony and NEACURH’s traditional roll call, in which delegates from each school perform a short skit introducing themselves.
New York University delegates dressed up as characters from the board game Clue, while members of the Culinary Institute of America introduced themselves in a song and dance about bananas, oranges and other foods.
Students from Clark University joked about the popular mix-up between the terms “residence halls” and “dorms.”
“Guys, it’s a residence hall,” a distraught R.A. in the skit told fellow R.A.s when they committed the dreadful faux pax.
Following roll call, students took a shuttle to North Campus to attend social events organized by the conference committee. The offerings included watching Finding Nemo in the Helen Newman swimming pool, singing Karaoke, learning Salsa and attending a hypnotist session.
Early Saturday morning, the delegates attended a keynote address by C. Clinton Sidle, director of the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program in the Johnson School of Management and a leadership consultant for organizations worldwide.
The rest of the day featured programming sessions, where delegates shared successful, tried-and-true ideas for fundraising, stress relief, diversity and other issues relevant to residential life.
“Looking for a Hot Date? Come Check Out our Stock!” was the title of one Salem State College workshop, where delegates explained how to run a successful date auction to raise money.
IONA College students explained how to understand interactions among diverse groups of people in their program, “Rock the Boat.”
For students considering a career in student affairs, delegates from the University of Connecticut shared their knowledge about graduate programs, the job search and leadership resources in their program, “Becoming a Lifer.”
Delegates voted on the top 10 programs late Saturday afternoon to be recognized at the banquet and awards ceremony later that evening.
The conference, besides entertaining delegates and recognizing their achievements, is meant to be revitalizing, Sisto said.
“A lot of times students feel like some of the issues they are facing … are unique, but they can come and share some of the challenges,” she said. “After delegates go to a conference, they come back energized and excited about new things they can do.”
Cornell has already implemented several ideas gleamed from past NEACURH conferences, according to William McCouch ’07, a member of Cornell’s delegation.
Two weekends ago, Residence Hall Association went to Mary Donlon Hall and vacuumed student rooms to raise money for REACH, a nonprofit organization that provides tutors to Ithaca children. McCouch said that in just two hours, six members raised $150.
Another idea that RHA implemented was a car bash. In that program, students took a sledgehammer to an old, towed car to relieve some pent-up stress.
Although the conference committee did not have any last minute issues, finding large auditorium rooms proved difficult because the past weekend was very busy, Registration Chair Nicole Chaplin ’07 said. In addition to conference and hotel accommodations, the committee also had to organize transportation, dining and programming and make binders, t-shirts and other accessories.
Funding for Martyopoly came primarily from delegates, who paid $125 each. Delegation advisors paid $215.
Delegates from Cornell and other schools praised the spirit and enthusiasm that ran high during the conference.
“The people I’ve talked to have been full of energy,” McCouch said during Friday’s roll-call. “I feel like I’m in high school again.”
Cornell Community Development, Cornell Dining, Cornell Catering and Cornell Marketing worked closely with the conference committee to provide additional resources and expertise.
Archived article by Xiaowei Cathy Tang
Sun Senior Editor