UNC Greensboro’s Ashby College Haunted House returned for the 24th year on Saturday, Oct. 26, with more than 350 Spartans and community members enjoying a night of spooks, zombies, and all things Halloween.
The haunted house is put on each year by residents of Ashby Residential College, an inclusive two-year program that offers a unique living and learning environment for a co-ed student community. This year’s theme was “Zombicology.”
“The haunted house serves as an educational experience because it brings many students together who then have to communicate, collaborate, and lead,” says Dr. Will Dodson, residential college coordinator who has supervised the haunted house student leadership for the past nine years. “It is also a fun experience because they get an opportunity to act weird and scary.”
The student-organized and student-led production involved turning the entire Mary Foust Residence Hall into a hospital and transforming Spartans into zombies. Participants enter the attraction acting as though they were getting a tour of a hospital. A seemingly harmless video presentation is played until an unexpected jump scare interrupts the footage and the screen goes black. The tour guide then leads participants through all three floors of the “hospital” trying to escape the zombie outbreak.
“Months of creativity and collaboration lead up to this night, and it’s so rewarding when it’s over,” says Luke Myrick, sophomore and co-chair of the event. “Many different minds and skillsets making this one big, multifaceted production come together is a really cool experience.”
The planning process starts early in the spring semester when students apply for the roles and subcommittees – makeup, tech and props, or tour guide – they want to join.
In the fall, the students determine the concepts for each floor, and student actors receive their characters, develop their scripts, and begin rehearsals. On the technical theater side, students mentor each other in makeup, costuming, and special effects. They must also budget for props and materials.
In early October, the advertising team creates flyers, short videos, and advertisements. Part of their advertising includes putting on full costume and makeup and passing out flyers in the cafeteria.
On the day of the event, they dress the building, transform into their new spooky identities, and have the fire marshal approve the building for safety before opening the doors. After it’s done, they take it down and reflect on the night over pizza.
“It’s a really great bonding experience,” says Abby Schleifer, senior and Ashby College upper class mentor who has been involved in the haunted house for four years. “After many months of planning and hours of preparation, to come together at the end of the night, eat pizza, and reflect on the experience provides a really nice comradery that you can’t get anywhere else.”
The Mary Foust Haunted House began in 1995, at the initiative of two students, Andrea Davis and Ryan Harrison, who pitched the idea as an event to raise money for a local nonprofit. This year, students donated cannned goods to lower the cost of admission. Donations went to the Arc of Greensboro and Spartan Open Pantry.
If you missed the haunted house this year, experience it through this first-person video:
Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by James Claiborne, University Communications
Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications