I first learned about the Midwestern Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls conference at the Residence Housing Association training session this fall. It is an affiliate of NACURH, which is the largest student-run organization. This year, the MACURH conference was held at Kansas State University in Lawrence, Kansas, and because this was my first conference I didn’t know really what to expect. I applied to attend because it sounded like an amazing opportunity and I was really enjoying being on Hall Council (you need to be involved in residence housing to attend any of these conferences). Though I was accepted as an alternate delegate, meaning that I would be allowed to go only if another university didn’t fill all their spots, I made to Kansas anyway!
When the day of the conference came along on Oct. 31, we all woke up at 6:30am to pile into a van for the 9 hour ride down to Kansas. I was initially dreading this because it was such a long drive, but it ended up being one of the best parts of the trip! We passed the time by chatting, playing games and just having a really enjoyable time.
Once we arrived at Kansas University, I surprised at how beautiful the campus was. We took lots of pictures by the Jayhawk statue outside and then went inside to the Opening Ceremonies. Each university had decorated these really beautiful clothespins that fit in with the theme of “Piecing Together the Bigger Picture” and traded them with other schools as a way to connect with other students and see what other universities from the Midwest were attending. We then watched each university’s Roll Call video —our video is now on YouTube–which was hilarious because everyone was so creative and funny.
All of the MACURH advisors spoke and presented, and the room had such a positive and excited vibe. After the opening ceremonies were over, there were a variety of socials that night including a professional drag show sponsored by the LGBTQ community at KU. We all decided to go to the drag show which was so much fun and everybody raved about it throughout the rest of the trip.
The next day we woke up early and headed back to KU to attend program sessions about res hall events that other students put on at their campuses. I attended some really interesting ones on Spring Break safety, how to plan events using Pinterest, how to de-stress your life and, my absolute favorite, a Harry Potter event. I presented with two other WSU students about a diversity event called Cookie Mixer where people would decorate cookies with various frosting and toppings each representing something different about themselves. For example, blue sprinkles means an only child while M&Ms mean they’ve traveled to Europe. I was really nervous to help present, but we were picked as a Top 10 program. Because we made the Top 10, we presented again, and actually won an award at the banquet later that night. It was an amazing experience! Our other delegate who presented also got a Top 10 award.
At the awards ceremony and banquet, we all got dressed in our formal attire, and got ready for a fun night and a delicious dinner. As we ate, speakers talked and one of the most interesting speeches was from a KU alumna who had won Survivor: Guatemala. We sat through all of the awards and Of The Month (OTM) winners and went up to receive the awards that we had been given.
WSU actually took home 9 OTMs, which are short, informal recognitions written by and for any individual, group or organization that is part of the WSU community. There are over 400 universities who submit OTMs across the globe, and our Winona State University is currently ranked #7 as far as OTM submissions and winners. It was incredible, and you could tell that everyone was so proud of them and the work that everybody was doing for university residence housing.
The night ended with Swap Shop, where universities brought t-shirts, bags, Frisbees and water bottles and everyone swapped with their gear and took home something from another school. Since it was Halloween weekend, there was also a dance and a costume contest, but after the long day of presentations and ceremonies I was far too tired to go.
All in all, I’m so incredibly proud to say that I represented Winona State at MACURH and that I got to have such an amazing experience. I learned so much about how to be a leader and how to work with other people to create something truly great. It was such a short weekend, but so eventful and beneficial. I feel like I came back closer to so many new people, and also filled with so much knowledge about residence housing. It was a fantastic weekend– definitely my favorite experience of college so far– and I hope to go again in the future.