May 4, 2014

Cornell ‘Midnight Scream’ to Occur as Official Event

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The Cornell tradition of a campus-wide scream on the night before finals will be a more community-oriented event this spring, according to Resident Advisor David Zakalik ’15.

The “midnight scream” is a campus-wide tradition that occurs annually before finals week, according to Zakalik, an RA in high rise 5. This year, he said the scream — which will begin May 11 at 11:59 p.m. and continue for several minutes — will occur on both Ho Plaza and Mews Courtyard.

The location on Ho Plaza is intended to make the event accessible to more students, including upper-level students who may live in Collegetown or elsewhere off-campus, according to Zakalik.

Planning for the community scream began in January, according to Zakalik. The High Rise dormitories on North Campus are “spearheading” the event.

Zakalik added that the High Rises have had this program for the last three semesters. Last semester, he said about 150 people participated. As the result, the organizers said they believe the scream will be “really big” this semester.

“It’s a nice way to bring people together during finals when we’re most in competition with each other, and we’re most isolated from each other,” Zakalik said. “People can come together and express their solidarity by screaming.”

The program will provide free snacks to students who come together to scream, according to Zakalik. He said that the Cornell Vegan Society and other groups will contribute to make sure there are “snacks for everyone to enjoy,” including kosher, gluten-free and nut-free options.

Zakalik said that the snacks are “half incentive and half a nice treat for everyone.”

“It’s incentive that instead of screaming out your window, people will come together to do it,” he said. “We wanted to make it a community program that people would go to together, instead of doing it in isolation.”

Zakalik said that volunteers will promote the event by putting up flyers, chalking near the two locations, and displaying ads on campus television screens.

Sanjula Singhal ’17 said that she thought the organized scream was a good idea.

“It’s a really good idea because the scream before finals lasts about two seconds,” she said. “If it were more of an event, it would be less stressful and it gives you a lot more time to enjoy the scream.”

However, Sean Cartwright ’17 said he was not in favor of a consolidated scream.

“It makes something informal into too much of an organized thing,” Cartwright said. “It loses its charm.”

Several residential communities and student organizations are part of the effort to centralize this tradition, including the National Residence Hall Honorary, Willard Straight Hall Union Board, and Residential Student Congress, according to Zakalik.

Other dorms participating in the event include Clara Dickson Hall, Hans Bethe House, the Ecology House, and Carl Becker House. Zakalik added that there are several students from Alice Cook House involved with organizing the event.