The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Student Affairs lives the suite life

Back row from left: Michael Sims, Houston Dougharty, Andrea Conner, Brenda Strong, Laura Gogg, Travis Greene, Hannah Langley. Front row: Nancy Guinane, Karen Edwards and Ann Isgrig. Photo by Avery Rowlison

By Avery Rowlison

rowlison@grinnell.edu

It’s the sweet life working in the Student Affairs suite on the third floor of the JRC. The suite is home to 18 of the 40 members of Student Affairs, who have worked there for periods ranging from 18 months (Nancy Guinane, Technical Assistant) to 16 years (Brenda Strong, Technical Assistant). Most students are aware that Student Affairs staff is in charge of making the important decisions surrounding student life on campus, but what they don’t know is that the suite and its staff are also party animals.

Laura Gogg, Technical Assistant, began hosting festivities in the office in October 2010, beginning with “Suite Eats,” in which each month, a staff member brings in something to share with the rest of the suite. Shortly after, Gogg threw a Halloween party. During that first party, Strong dressed as a housewife of Poweshiek County and recalled that Andrea Conner, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life & Orientation, didn’t recognize her in her costume.

Gogg also organizes tailgating parties for the University of Iowa-Iowa State football games. Although the tension runs high during the game, members of the staff don’t hold grudges over each other’s allegiances.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” Gogg said.

The Student Affairs staff clearly loves its football: the suite is also host to the annual Super Bowl party where yummy food, football and Super Bowl trivia are abundant.

One of the staff’s favorite events is the Annual Student Affairs Suite Memorial Celebrity Cold Weather Awareness Pro-Am Chili Cook-Off Challenge, often judged by celebrities such as Scott Turley, Executive Chef, and Laura Kaiser, Assistant Director of Dining Services. The coveted prize is the winning trophy, and, of course, bragging rights.

“Laura [Gogg] has won two out of three years,” said Travis Greene, Dean of Students, “She’s an excellent cook.”

The popcorn machine is very popular with the staff, but the addition of a snow cone machine has everyone very excited.

“Holy crap, this changes everything,” Conner said upon hearing about the machine.

Another staple feature in the office is the candy bowl on the front desk. Students are highly encouraged to stop by and pick up a piece or two. Most people who come up also enjoy the framed class photos in the sitting area in the suite.

“Almost every student who comes up here will spend at least a little time looking for themselves,” said Houston Dougherty, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Besides their monthly meetings, the entire Student Affairs staff gets together Thursdays during the summer at various restaurants in town for a little “TLC.” Since most departments’ schedules calm down over the summer, Student Affairs staff often invites other departments such as Athletics to join them for lunch.

“There are just enough restaurants in town to last us the whole summer,” Greene said.

But partying and student life aren’t the only things the staff enjoys doing. A long-standing pranking war erupted between Gogg and Dan Hirsch, RLC and Assistant Director of Residence Life. Gogg insists that Hirsch started the war by first littering her office with inflatable summer toys and Hershey’s kisses. To retaliate, Gogg put candy corn and Post-It notes all over his office. But Hirsch wasn’t done: he erected a huge poster of Gogg’s face on the wall in her office.

“I think people must think I’m vain, with this huge picture of my face up on the wall,” Gogg said.

So far, Gogg has had the last say in this war. She wrapped everything in Hirsch’s office in Christmas wrapping paper, including his framed photos, tape dispenser, computer mouse, office phone, and the light switch.

“I am really proud that I was able to make the photos stand up after I wrapped them,” Gogg said.

She hopes that this will put an end to their war once and for all.

Although the suite is full of well-known pranksters, there are also many sweet moments between staff members. For Bosses’ Day, Hirsch plastered Conner’s office with a huge motivational and appreciative poster.

While the suite’s social gatherings are fun for everyone, they also serve to forge strong relationships between the staff members.

“When you’re dealing with the hard stuff, it’s good to be around people you like and you work well with during those times,” said Karen Edwards, Associate Dean and Director of International Student Affairs.

“When we hang out, we build relationships so that when we’re working together, those relationships are already there,” Dougherty said.

“We can also refer students to our colleagues and can rely on each other to do a good job,” Edwards said.

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