By: Rielly Welsh
Early in September, shortly after the start of the new school year, students pulled out their pencils, paper and paintbrushes and to create the latest mural additions to the residence halls here at Elon. They sketched their ideas and painted them into existence after approval by the Neighborhood Offices.
The 2016-2017 school year marks the 25th anniversary of the Residence Life Mural Competition, as well as Dr. Smith Jackson’s final year of leadership as Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students. Faculty and staff judge the murals on the criteria of their representation of the university, depiction of the community, creativity, and quality. However, murals which incorporate the focuses of both the competition’s anniversary as well as Dr. Jackson’s last year of leadership will receive bonus points during judging.
Students put the finishing touches on their murals on September 26, and judging will come to an end this Friday, October 14, with the top three winners being announced October 22 at the Homecoming football game. Everyone has aspirations to have helped create a winning mural, but prize or not, this year’s additions certainly enhance the residence halls and are creations to be proud of.
One mural that embraced the focuses necessary for extra points, as well as its neighborhood’s international theme, was that of Global C fourth floor. The outer part of the mural forms the shape of an acorn using the flags of 25 countries from which Elon students come to study. Inside the acorn is a fox – e symbol of Global C, the Thames House – wearing a name tag that reads “Smitty J” in honor of Dr. Jackson, with a tail that blends into Elon’s signature leaf.
Sloan’s first floor, the Communications LLC, serves as home to many passionate communications students. Their enthusiasm for the subject comes across clearly in their mural, which is particularly special as it is the recently renovated LLC’s first mural. First-year resident Alison Heilman stated, “We wanted to go with communications through the ages, so we have a pad and paper with journalism, all the way up to smartphones and tablets and computers.”
Jared Mayerson, a first-year Communications Fellow who lives on the floor added, “Our RA Kannon asked us what we wanted in our mural and it was a combination of what everyone wanted. We wanted to include how we have people from all over the world in our LLC, so there’s different languages and areas of the world.” The students of the floor added an especially personal detail to their mural to tie into the contest’s theme, getting Dr. Smith Jackson himself to paint his signature.
The girls of West second floor chose to go a different route. They didn’t directly incorporate the details necessary to receive additional points, but instead centered their artwork around a quote chosen by their RA. First-year student Kirsten Chase said, “We all have our handprints around [the quote] and our handprints have our names… honestly I think this is better than a mural with a lot of stuff because it encapsulates the feeling of West second floor, that we all have each other’s back and are close on the hall.”
No matter who ends up taking home the prizes from the competition, the time and dedication that students put into their murals clearly shows. This year’s additions continue to bring life to the residence halls, leaving a lasting mark of the 2016-2017 residents and their floor communities.