Community, Service, and Tradition at the “Quiet” Dorm
An Interview with Sam Clausen, Head Resident Assistant
Interview by Anne Hotz
After Niedfeldt Residence Hall’s impressive showing in the Spirit Week competitions, I asked Head RA Sam Clausen to give some insight on how a quiet dorm comes up with such notable performances.
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According to campus stereotypes, Simpson is the jock dorm, Galloway is loud and nerdy, and Niedfeldt . . . well, Niedfeldt is awfully quiet. What was your initial impression of Niedfeldt after living in Simpson for three years?
Niedfeldt has traditionally been the more reserved men’s dorm on campus. Coming from three years of Simpson, my impression was, “Chill guys, chill dorm.” As I came in this year, I found a number of guys who really love Niedfeldt because it is less chaotic than Simpson or Galloway.
Niedfeldt is unique among the men’s dorms because it is under the supervision of a student resident director rather than a house mom. How does this affect Niedfeldt’s culture?
Without a house mom, we get the opportunity to embody the College’s ideal of self-government even more. Eric Ragan, the resident director, has a lot of responsibilities, but he manages them extremely well. The freshmen all respect the leadership and experience of the upperclassmen, and all of the guys respect what the RA team is doing this year. The biggest difference with having a student house director is probably the fact that Eric’s apartment is always open for guys to talk, study, and spend time in, whereas that apartment is a much more private space in the other dorms.
Does Niedfeldt have any dorm traditions?
Niedfeldt’s biggest tradition is probably getting an unbelievable amount of chicken wings to celebrate all of the hard work and service hours the guys have put in throughout the year. I’m really excited to participate in it this year. Last year we held a ping-pong tournament to raise money for Vince, a resident with cancer, and we plan to repeat this event this year. We also started the tradition of having a Nied-Fall pumpkin-carving event to raise money for community families to have Thanksgiving dinners. We have hay bales and cider, roast pumpkin seeds over a fire, and generally celebrate fall.
What were your goals for your time as an RA in Niedfeldt?
What we have been able to do this year is maintain Niedfeldt’s reserved culture while becoming more spontaneous and active around campus as a whole. In short, the goal has been to show campus that Niedfeldt has some incredible guys in it who are ready to leave their mark on Hillsdale.
What have been your biggest successes so far?
We had a top-three finish in Homecoming, bought flowers for Olds on a whim, and brought nearly a quarter of the dorm to the Naval Battle this year. People are starting to notice what we are doing.
How did the impressive third-place finish at Homecoming come about? Is there anything you plan to change or improve in the future?
Homecoming this year was a blast. It is oftentimes a burden on the RA team to do so much on top of classes, but everyone was excited to contribute whatever they could to the team. The biggest reason we succeeded (aside from the choreography skills of Eric Ragan and Dave Peters) was that such a large percentage of guys got involved. Half the dorm came to our photo and video shoot. Guys from every class got involved in mock rock, painting the banner, and making the trophy. Without the energy from the dorm as a whole, there’s no way we could have had such a great week. I honestly would not change a thing about Homecoming this year. For the future, I would love to keep up the positive image much of campus has of us (and maybe even win a Spirit Cup).
Anne Hotz, ‘18, is an English major and Classical Education minor from Lincoln, Nebraska. She is passionate about C.S. Lewis, musicals, British novels, sweaters, and hedgehogs.