It’s not every day that university president Randy O’Rear’s face appears in much larger than life form on the side of Burt Hall. The 11-by-14 feet printout was placed there by a group of young women from the dorm who were participating in the first ever Flat Randy competition during Homecoming week.
Students could not have picked a better way to start a new school tradition. The large picture proved to be enough to give Burt Babes a victory in the university’s own version of Flat Stanley.
Grade school students often participate in the Flat Stanley project. It involves making a cutout of children’s book character Stanley Lambchop, and taking pictures with him in as many different places as they can while documenting his travels. Flat Randy was the university’s own and personalized adaption.
“We were trying to get all the dorms to get together in friendly competition,” freshman speech education major and vice president of the Residence Hall Association Kym Wolfe said. “I know all the dorms are kind of separated, and we wanted to bring everyone together on campus and eventually make it a new tradition.”
Pictures with the cutout were taken at many different times and places during the week of Homecoming festivities based on the daily goals determined by RHA. One objective related to a Homecoming event and another to a picture in a certain location.
“They took the Flat Randy to Luther, the eternal flame, the library, Hardy, chapel. He went everywhere,” senior art education major and Burt RA Katherine Johnson said. “I think it gave a little bit of fun to everyday life. Rather than just going to Hardy, we were taking Flat Randy with us.”
The event sparked a large amount of student enthusiasm and creativity. For Johnson Hall Resident Director, RHA sponsor and event mastermind Julie Barr, Flat Randy was a perfect way for residence halls to create their own tradition.
“Our whole goal for RHA is to just pump up residence life,” Barr said. “With Homecoming we wanted to be a part of that, and we wanted to provide something else but different. We loved the creativity.”
The original idea for the project went through an evolving process. Barr, with help from assistant director of campus activities Jeff Sutton, created the unusual theme.
“We had this idea of an extended scavenger hunt, but the logistics were killing us, and so that’s when I went to Jeff to get some help,” Barr said. “He really came up with this idea of having a Flat Randy contest.”
The competition brought unity among the different residence halls. Jumping into a picture with an O’Rear cutout proved to be a great way for students to get to know their neighbors.
“That’s what we were looking for,” Barr said. “Just to have students within their dorms or halls come together and get to know people. We had a great turnout.”
The largest attempt on the side of Burt Hall was an example of how students worked together to accomplish a goal.The picture was printed on 200 different sheets of paper and then taped together to create the enormous laminated portrait, which they got maintenance to mount on the side of their building.
A group of Burt Babes used all of their printer points to create the large face. However, because of their enthusiasm and school spirit, the group was awarded all printer points back.
“It took so much creativity, time and thought,” Barr said. “It turned out phenomenal. So much time and creativity and effort was put into that, and it was their idea. It wasn’t the RD’s idea.”
Students were initially a little skeptical of the project, but RAs acted as catalysts and helped students become involved in the many opportunities for fun photo shoots.
“The RAs did a lot,” Johnson said. “When the RAs stepped up, the residents got into it.”
Burt Hall was declared the winner by receiving the most likes on Facebook for its picture of the large Flat Randy on the wall with the actual O’Rear and a group of students standing in front of the headshot.
RHA threw a party for all Burt Babes for winning the contest. Residents poured into the lobby to enjoy Chick-fil-A food and music while chatting with friends.
RHA was the driving force behind the task. Members created the daily assignments and advertised for the event by chalking sidewalks, placing flyers across campus and spreading the word at football tailgates and at chapel.
Hall Havoc is the next RHA event and will take place during the spring semester.
“They’re (RHA) really great,” Barr said. “They’re putting all their hard work into it, and we really appreciate that. We got some committed students that really want to make residence life a great place. We want students to love where they live.”