Bare bones: building the Haunted Union
Students prepare for Late Night UB's 18th annual Haunted Union
The Student Union’s conference rooms are typically filled with presentations, therapy dogs, club events and meetings. They will soon be replaced with strobe lights, costumes and frightened students.
Late Night UB’s 18th annual Haunted Union will take place Oct. 27.This year’s attraction will be open Friday and Monday night and all day Tuesday to ensure that students have a chance to participate. The theme for this year’s event is haunted carnival. The team prepared by taking trips to local haunted attractions and seeing the movie “It.”
In addition to the haunted house, there will also be “haunted” food trucks outside of the SU. The first 600 students will receive a free $5 voucher to be used at a food truck of their choosing.
The Haunted Union takes roughly two weeks to set up. Students began building on Friday the 13th, appropriately kicking off the Halloween season on campus. By Friday the conference rooms will be converted into 11 different rooms, each with their own twist on the classic clown theme.
Campus Life’s Student Programming Board designs and builds the haunted house. The board consists of 10 to 12 students who work most Friday nights and Sundays to finish the build in time for Halloween.
In addition to students who are paid to work on the project, there are 80 to 100 students that volunteer.
Kerry Spicer, associate director of Student Unions and Activities, helps her students plan and orchestrate the event. They are in the process of finishing the framework of the haunted house and decorating each room.
“We order pipe and bases from a local rental company and that’s the framework for the whole build,” Spicer said. “We buy flame retardant black plastic from California for the walls, it’s the only place we can find the specific kind that we need.”
After configuring the electrical work for each room, the walkway’s ceiling will be placed, which creates a dark, claustrophobic space perfect for scaring students.
Each room is built by two students, including lighting, decorations, color schemes and slits in the wall where staff wait to scare students as they walk by.
Megan King, a junior psychology major, is on the Student Programming Board in charge of the Haunted Union. This is King’s first year working on the event and she enjoys the sense of community amongst all the students working on the project.
“It’s a really big event and we all come together. This is our chance to show our creativity,” King said. “We're basically building this whole thing from scratch and it’s really cool to see what direction the house goes in.”
King feels this is a great opportunity for students to explore what Late Night has to offer students. She acknowledges that Halloween is a holiday where a lot of students party, but encourages them to come to campus.
“I like what Late Night stands for. It gives you something productive to do,” King said. “I think it helps you become more engaged on campus and the opportunities the school offers. Events like this bring students together, it’s another opportunity to fall in love with UB.”
Spicer says a big part of the event’s success is SA club participation. A large portion of volunteers come from clubs looking to help build the haunted house and scare students, according to Spicer.
“We reach out to clubs [to participate] … this year our marching band is creating a room,” Spicer said. “They did one last year and it turned out great, so they’ll be returning to help us out again.”
Students get the full effect of working at a professional haunted house. There’s a makeup artist on set to prepare anything from clown to zombie makeup and there is a vast collection of decorations and special effects props.
The positive reception of the event is a big factor that allows Campus Life to hold the event every year.
“Students seem to really enjoy it and we love doing it because it’s hilarious,” Spicer said. “You watch students go in the front and some of them are like ‘oh I don’t get scared’ and by the end they’re running out yelling.”
Students are excited about the return of the Haunted Union and are happy that Late Night is including things like food trucks to expand the event.
Brandon Gonzalez, a freshman aerospace and mechanical engineering major, says he is thinking about attending after learning about the event.
“It sounds appealing. The occasion gives campus some dynamics, which fits the holiday season,” Gonzales said. “It’s cool that UB does something for each major holiday, they don’t just brush something like Halloween off and I appreciate that.”
Ditue Paul, a junior nursing major, has attended the haunted house in past years, but isn't sure if she’ll be attending this year because of exams. She encourages students to try the event if they haven’t yet.
“The Haunted Union is really fun if you go with a group of people, it’s free so why not go?” Paul said. “It doesn’t really stack up to the more professional haunted houses in the area, but for something that doesn’t require transportation or students paying, it's pretty cool.”
Spicer thinks that the production her team puts on is equal to that of any big-scale haunted houses in the area.
“What we love about the Haunted Union is that it’s free. If you’ve ever been to a haunted house in the area, they’re great but they’re expensive,” Spicer said. “[At UB] You don’t need transportation and you don’t need cash. If you’re a UB student you can come and go through for free.”
Max Kalnitz is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org