The Wilkeson wasteland

RAs and volunteers finish up preparations for fifth incarnation of Wilkeson's haunted house


?The Wilkeson coffeehouse is usually a daily meeting place for residents to relax. Come next week, residents will find a terrifying toxic nightmare instead of their comfortable coffeehouse.

But that wasteland will not be created overnight.

More than two months of preparation are coming to a head as Wilkeson’s annual haunted house opens next Thursday for Halloween. The free two-day event is featuring a “toxic fallout” theme. Students will be able to navigate through an apocalyptic wasteland.

This year also brings a “Halloween Carnival” to the Wilkeson Terrace.

“Some may laugh, some may scream bloody murder, but no matter what they are going to have fun,” said Kyle Schneider, a senior management information systems major and Resident Adviser in Wilkeson. Schneider has been lead RA on the project for two consecutive years.

The details of the horrors waiting inside the haunted house are for participants to find out on their own, but Schneider promised a plethora of ways to be scared. He described the haunted house as having “tight spaces, darkness, sudden jumps and just downright creepiness.”

With more than $1,400 put into the project and work divided between nine RAs and members of Wilkeson and Spaulding Hall Councils, the haunted house is one of the biggest programs in the residence halls every year.

Schneider estimates that around 400 hours of work have collectively gone in to the haunted house since the beginning of the year.

“We have a lot of wheels all going on at once,” said Megan Erway, a sophomore psychology major and Wilkeson RA. “Luckily, we all have the same goal to make the best house possible with the free time we have.”

The RAs were split up into sub committee that focused on various parts of the production. Some are in charge of construction, while others are focused on making posters.

Erway came up with the concept of using large posters featuring a deathly hazmat figure to promote the event.

“We took various designs and essentially mass produced these toxic waste themed ads to put up all around Ellicott,” Erway said.

Last year, almost 200 students attended the haunted house, coming close to the record high of 280 visitors in 2012. This year, the staff has their goal set at 500 attendees.

To accomplish this, the staff has planned alternatives to the haunted house for those looking for a treat rather than a trick.

On Thursday, they will be hosting a s’mores bar for students. On Friday, they will hold a “Halloween Carnival” at the terrace featuring games, food and a costume contest.

The RAs knew they wanted to do things other than the haunted house and decided to do the carnival two weeks ago.

“We wanted to be able to keep people there,” Erway said. With a large budget at their disposal this year, Erway explained, “[extra] programming was the obvious choice. It wouldn’t just be an empty terrace with a decorated entrance to a haunted house. We would have games, food, prizes and other entertainment to keep people excited and engaged.”

More than 20 volunteers at the program’s disposal have come mostly from Wilkeson and Spaulding Hall Councils. Their roles ranged from helping to build the haunted house to scare those who go through, as well as working the games and food stands at the carnival.

Dillan Sayers, a senior mechanical engineering major and Wilkeson RA is in charge of building props and physically setting up the haunted house, which is still under construction.

Sayers jokes that he hopes the haunted house will be the “warrior wolf” of RA programs.

As far as informing residents of the haunted house, it seems Erway’s posters are being noticed throughout Ellicott.

“They really come out at you, more than the normal ones do,” said Ashley Pesano, a sophomore undecided major.

The RAs feel that their hard work is about to pay off big time, just one week away from the completion of their daunting eight-week project. The haunted house opens its doors Oct. 30 and 31, aiming terrify the UB community.