Drake Halloween Checklist

It’s that time of year again, folks. The air chills, the leaves begin to fall, costume stores spring up out of nowhere, and children spend days at time hopped up on sugar. In my world, the Halloween season means Hocus Pocus is playing on repeat while I consume dangerous levels of candy corn. But Halloween is also a great time on Drake’s campus. With events going on constantly, there are just some things that you have to do to ring in All Hallow’s Eve at Drake. I’ll do us all a favor and steer clear of the Halloween puns, but with the blanket statement that all of the following are indeed spooktacular.

Attend a Residence Hall Event, or a Couple

The annual Stalnaker Hall Halloween Party presents an awesome opportunity to show off your costume, meet students from other halls and, of course, just get in the Halloween spirit. There’s food, awesome music, scary lighting, and even prizes for best costumes. Meanwhile, a little ways across campus Morehouse Hall puts on their very own Morguehouse for students to come and visit. With incredible spooky haunted house decorations orchestrated by students, the event is sure to impress…and maybe scare just a little.

The winners from Drake Student Activities Board's pumpkin carving contest.

The winners from Drake Student Activities Board’s pumpkin carving contest.

Enter a Halloween Contest

Whether it’s a costume contest at Stalnacker, or a door decorating contest between the inhabitants of your residence hall floor, Halloween at Drake is a good time to get your competitive streak going. Carve the best pumpkin, bake the greatest Halloween treats, or maybe just eat the most candy. It’s completely up to you.

Watch a (Really Cute) Parade

While there’s obviously a ton to do on campus during the Halloween season, make some time to explore Des Moines and the city’s Halloween happenings as well. One notable example: The Spooky Paws Pet Parade in East Village. The parade features Des Moines’ finest canines dressed to impress in some of the cutest and cleverest costumes around. Oh, and humans can dress up too.

Visit Drake’s Haunted Spots

I have irrefutable scientific evidence from a professional ghost hunter who came to campus that Drake University is indeed haunted. Sorry to scare everyone, but it is the truth. So as October winds down, check out some of the best spots on campus on connect with the spirit world: the basement of Herriot Hall and the ever-eerie Oreon E. Scott Chapel. I just hope you come out alive…

The Struggle Toward the Heights

“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” -Albert Camus

It’s easy to be cynical. Our world is populated by West African deaths gone ignored, political regimes exerting force and oppression over their people, and the horror that is the word ISIS. Corruption, stagnation, decline. It’s a familiar pattern for anyone who’s paying attention. And those who aren’t paying attention? Well, that might be even worse. Ours is a generation too busy snapping Instagrams of their Pumpkin Spice Lattes to even notice that there’s a whole world out there with bigger problems than Taylor Swift’s genre classification.

Yes, it’s easy to be cynical. What’s not easy is to keep living with persistence, passion, and hope for better things to come. And though I’ve learned a lot during my time at Drake, the most essential thing I’ve learned is the importance of hope. I’m sorry if this sounds like the kind of lesson gleaned at the end of a Hallmark movie, but that doesn’t make the point any less valid. The thing is, I’ve spent so much of my life stuck in the middle ground between my learned cynicism and my natural idealism that I failed to realize neither philosophy is really the answer. Undoubtedly, the world is absurd and unfair and sometimes downright terrible. But that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. And it definitely doesn’t mean we should give up on it.

You might think a wise professor sat me down and explained this truth to me or perhaps I heard a rousing speech from a Drake speaker about taking action and creating change. You’d be wrong. It’s not that I haven’t had great professors or heard some fascinating speeches, but the most inspirational and enlightening force in my Drake education has honestly been the actions of my fellow Drake students. I’ve met future educators dedicated to bridging the achievement gap and becoming an advocate for all students. I’ve learned from social justice crusaders working in Des Moines, and sometimes even around the world, who fight for fairness. I’ve worked with writers who are driven to bring about gender equality and social change. My hope is that by dedicating my current and future life to work in non-profit communications, I can do a little of the same.

I say this as a huge fan of French existentialism, but the world is not without meaning and our lives are not without purpose. At Drake, it’s become clear to me that we’re all a bit of an absurd hero, battling against the forces of the world, trying to make a difference. Unquestionably it’s a tough battle, but if anyone’s prepared to take it on, it’s my Drake peers and classmates. I’m not saying that all of us at Drake will change the world in big, dramatic ways. I’m not even saying that we all believe that we can actually change the world. But we’re sure gonna try. And who knows? Maybe in the struggle for the heights, we’ll find some meaning after all.

The Right Fit

I wanted to go to Northwestern.

That might be a bit of an unconventional statement on a blog documenting the Drake student experience, but there it is. The truth is that a few years ago, when I pictured my college life, it was at that classic antique archway right in the heart of Evanston. I dreamt of wearing tons of purple, roaming the halls of Medill, and hanging out lakeside with copious amounts of books.

I figured I’d go to Creighton.

When I browsed through the brochures, it all seemed to make sense to head to Omaha. Less expensive than Northwestern, but with some cool merits of it’s own, I just envisioned that I’d end up a Bluejay.

I thought I should go to Truman.

The benefits of staying in state were pretty overwhelming. Financially, it was the best possible option, even if it did mean spending time in Kirksville, Missouri.

I ended up at Drake. 

The fact is that despite the thoughts and the plans, the ideas and the predictions, come college decision time, I became a Drake Bulldog. And now, looking back at the process, I’m not entirely sure I can recount how that happened. What I do know is that Drake was always on my list, but there were so many other schools in the way. That is until one day, I looked down and realized there was only really one possible option for my college education. I hadn’t planned it or thought about it that much, but I just had this overwhelming feeling that Drake was the right place for me. This decision must’ve happened gradually, but it felt like a lightening bolt realization that suddenly came clear. And over three years later, I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

What I’m not saying is to give up on college dreams, ignore common sense, or disregard finances. All of those are pretty important. But I am a strong advocate for keeping an open mind, especially when it comes to a decision as big as college. And for a lot of students, they will attend the school they planned on all along. But for some, like me, the right fit might just be a bit of a surprise. The thing is that finding the right school is complicated, and for that matter, people are complicated. So make plans, dream up ideas, do what you gotta do. Just know that it might all change in an instant, leaving you somewhere you never imagined, but maybe someplace much, much better.

Fall Festivites in Des Moines

Did y’all know that pumpkins grow on these long stems and you actually have to pull them out of the ground? I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I got a chance to witness the whole earthy process this weekend when a group of friends and I trekked out to Center Grove Orchard, about 30 minutes away from Des Moines.

And though I joke a little, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen pumpkins on stems in the fields like that before. Let me tell you, it was incredible. Though I was the subject of many “city girl discovers the simple life” jokes from my friends, I really was fascinated by all that Center Grove had to offer. I’ve talked before about how Des Moines is this awesome cultured, urban area, but by venturing out past the city a little, Des Moines has also given me the opportunity to experience the farm life that I’ve only ever seen in Footloose.

It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

It’s the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

It really was this kind of refreshing foray into nature for me. After spending time soaking in the blue sky and the sight of these beautiful fields, I came back feeling better, happier, clearer somehow. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m basically Thoreau.

But besides the soul-cleansing benefits of the orchard, it was just a lot of fun. We took a hay ride around the farm, got to visit with some baby animals, spent time literally picking our own pumpkins, and then got to drink some awesome apple cider at the end. Plus, I saw approximately 3 different babies dressed in pumpkin outfits. You can’t tell me that’s not the cutest thing in the world.

And by the end of the day, maybe I even became a bit of a farm girl myself. I mean, I did drive a tractor while at the orchard. Okay, to be fair, it was a pedal operated tractor meant for children, but I’ve got to start small. I’m not Kevin Bacon.