O'Neill Hall is ready to 'Let the Good Times Roll'
By EMMETT MALLOY
Assistant Scene Editor
Ask any former resident of Grace Hall to sum up his experience in that dorm and usually the word "chaos" is used.
With more than 500 students spanning 11 floors, Grace Hall was legendary for its wild parties and loose enforcement of the rules. However, the ideals and traditions still live on through O'Neill Hall, one of two male dorms on West Quads with roots in Grace. Opening in fall of 1996, O'Neill has already established itself as a prominent dorm on campus.
Initially, many former residents of Grace believed that O'Neill would never live up to the Grace's legacy, but many now agree with the move. Kyle Shaw, an O'Neill RA who lived in the other twin tower, Flanner, felt that the move was good for Grace because "it moved students back to the center of campus, and plus the design of Grace was more for administrative purposes than for student living."
Although the residents of O'Neill are very proud of its Grace heritage, the dorm has also opted to create a tradition of its own. Arguably the biggest dance on campus, Mardi Gras has become something of a legend entering into its fourth year. The dance was originally conceived by former hall president Brian Gaffney, who based his idea on the one in New Orleans.
"Basically he wanted to find a niche, something to carry on for 30 years or so," explained Tim Casale, a fourth year resident of O'Neill, and an RA.
The dance begins this Thursday night with the King Contest, which features seven contestants from every section competing for the right to be the King of the weekend festivities. With the past kings and the presidents of McGlinn as the judges, the contestants contend for the title in a series of games ranging from karokee to impersonation to best pickup line. This year features a new category: the Wheel O' Shame. The contestants must spin the wheel and then doing whatever the marker selects.
The dance officially begins with a parade, complete with floats, around campus with the first stop at Grace to pay homage. After that, the parade goes to Mod Quad, then North, onto South and finally back to West Quad. During the parade, participants stop at the dorm of their dates to pick them up. The return of the parade to O'Neill marks the start of the biggest dorm event on campus. The dorm spends most of its yearly budget on the event, even foregoing Christmas decorations. Furthermore, each O'Neill resident is allowed to bring two dates, making Mardi Gras a heavily attended event.
In less than four years, O'Neill has made a name for itself in athletics. O'Neill has won intramural championships in soccer, hockey, softball and cross-country. Perhaps the most recognized face was Gaffney, who was the three-time Bengal Bouts champion until he lost in the title fight last year.
In addition, the dorm is very committed to social causes. A new program initiated this year involves sending a different section in the dorm to the Boys and Girls Club. Although the dorm does not have the tradition of older dorms on campus, dorm president Matt Alles welcomes the challenge. "As tough as it is to start new things, it gives us the opportunity to begin a tradition that will be going on for years to come," Alles remarked.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, February 23, 2000