As a Vice President (a veep as we call them) of Blacker House (only one of three), I am a part of putting on something we moles call Alley Ordering. It’s a 1-2 hour event that we plan ahead of time, filled with fun and games. At least, we hope it’s filled with fun. This time around, it was Halloween themed. Qiao Qiao, one of our other veeps, came up with all the activities for people to do, even insisting on a turnip- and potato- carving activity - for old times sake. This is because before we started using pumpkins, all of the jack-o-lanterns used to be carved out of turnips and potatoes. With that in mind, it’s probably more apt to call our theme All Hallow’s Eve.
We didn’t actually hold it on Halloween, only the weekend before. Other than turnip carving, we also had two classics: wrap a mummy and broomstick race. For those who are unfamiliar, wrap a mummy is an activity that needs at least two people and quite a bit of toilet paper. As this happened in alleys, each alley had to select one of their own to become mummified. Points were given out based on the speed of mummification with toilet paper, and the integrity of the mummy. For example if a bit of skin was uncovered, then that would be fewer points. Everyone did quite well; we ended up with some pretty well wrapped mummies.
The broomstick race was a bit of fun for the veeps. An area in the courtyard was cleared out, and we held relay races to see who could get to and from a plank of wood fastest on a broom. There was a catch: participants couldn’t hold the broom with their hands, and the broom could not touch the ground. As such, there were quite a few creative ways of getting across: from hopping, to waddling, and even crossing legs to keep the broom held between them.
As with every alley ordering, it ended with food, and this time we tried to treat everyone. We ordered Chick-fil-a for the meat eaters, and stuck to boring old pizza for the vegetarians. Apparently we were feeding starving children, because all the food - enough for 50 people mind you - was finished by about 30 people in less than 10 minutes. It was astonishing.
I think the alley ordering was a great success, and I have to applaud Qiao Qiao for thinking of such fun activities for everyone to do. We were transported back to our childhood, and I think that’s what made people so enthusiastic about this ordering. This was the last ordering that my compatriots and I will organize, so I wish the best of luck to the Vice Presidents that succeed us!
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like: