Bulldog Burrows: Office Halloween decorations

The Speaker’s Lab staff uses Halloween decorations to promote their services to students. Photo by Delaney Hudson

GWEN PAVICH | STAFF REPORTER | gpavich@butler.edu 

The personal spaces we inhabit are a reflection of ourselves — from dorms to offices — and that much is true for members of the Butler campus community. Read on to discover the next of our Bulldog Burrows through a Q&A-style interview. 

Usually, Halloween decorations are a way to be scary or sometimes silly during the holiday. But when staff and faculty members in Jordan Hall and Fairbanks got the opportunity to decorate their offices for Halloween, they used it as a way to express themselves and showcase their departments. 

Bianca Pagano, the administrative specialist for the English department, was inspired to decorate the English department hallway to replicate an American literature classic with a feline twist. Elizabeth Huselton, the administrative specialist for the Department of History, Anthropology and Classics (HAC), decorated the office door using a pun. College of Communication lecturer Carly Middleton and assistant professor Dr. Kristen Patrow decorated their office doors to engage with their students. The Speaker’s Lab rooms were decorated by Tyler Ellis, a junior youth and community development major, to help portray what the Speaker’s Lab is used for. 

Photo by Delaney Hudson

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: Can you give a brief explanation of your Halloween decorations and the inspiration behind them? 

BIANCA PAGANO: I initially was going to just build [the] black cat [out of cardboard] for Halloween. But, I love English puns. I was waiting for my daughter outside of cross country practice and was trying to name [the cardboard] cat and all of a sudden I thought [about doing] “The Great Catsby”, [which is a play on] “The Great Gatsby”.

ELIZABETH HUSELTON: The HAC office door is decorated with paper bats around the entire door with a sign that says, “Don’t let the semester drive you batty.” I was inspired to decorate our door because of two things. Our awesome colleagues in sociology and English did Halloween decorations this year. Also in the past, they used to have a Halloween decorating contest, and [there is another contest this year]. I just know the students really enjoy seeing the different [decorations] up on the doors. 

Photo by Megan Fuller.

CARLY MIDDLETON: Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays [because] I don’t enjoy being scared. A lot of my job focuses on getting to know students and building relationships with students, so I start every one of my classes off with a fun question of the day that I call “The Minute Mingle”. One day, I had [Halloween related questions] as my “Minute Mingle” questions [that I posted on my office door] and gave students a Post-it note for them to write their favorite things about Halloween which [include their favorite] Halloween candy, what they dressed up as, what [Halloween] movies they like and then of course, some spooky things about college as well. [This was meant] just to have fun, but also to allow students to open up and share some of their favorite things [about the holiday]. 

KRISTEN PATROW: [The decorations] are all Edgar Allan Poe-based [and have an] old-timey feel [which is where the newspaper comes in]. [On] the door [it looks] like a library with candles [and is] peel and stick. [There is also] a fake newspaper called “The Washington Poe” with a bunch of fake stories based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and short stories. [There are also] spider webs and ravens and old-timey writing things. 

Photo by Delaney Hudson

TYLER ELLIS: When [the Speaker’s Lab staff] learned that there was a competition within CCOM (College of Communication) to decorate the doors of the offices, the director of the Speaker’s Lab, Dr. Kristin Swenson [thought] this would be so fun. We put our heads together for some ideas of what we wanted to do. We have three different Speaker’s Lab rooms, so we wanted to have some kind of theme but still be creative between all of them. The two that are next to each other [are] themed as “the public speaking pumpkin patch,” which I thought was really cute. We found these paper plates with pumpkins on them and stuck them all to the doors. The other [room] was just [themed around] public speaking again, and [it says], “Are all eyes on you? No worries!” I like having something that’s Halloween-related, but also related to the Speaker’s Lab because there was this study that [was about] the top 10 worst fears [people have] and number one was public speaking. So many people think public speaking is super scary, and that’s what the lab is for. So we wanted to play off of that with Halloween decorations. 

Photo by Delaney Hudson

TBC: Do you have a favorite part about your Halloween decorations? 

BP: I made selfie frames and I [incorporated] the scene where Daisy runs over Myrtle [in one]. But they’re also cats to go with “The Great Catsby” theme. I thought that’d be really funny because most of the English students had to read “The Great Gatsby” in high school and it’s kind of a favorite among American Lit folks. I like to do things where people aren’t taking themselves so seriously all the time. 

Photo by Delaney Hudson

KP: Probably the pun [on The Washington Post because] I really like puns. I also have some old typewriter keys that I put some fake blood on in there [which is] pretty fun. 

TE: I liked that we repurposed stuff that we found at Target. [For example], the pumpkins were paper plates [that we found and thought that] it was perfect so [we did not] have to cut out a million little pumpkins. 

TBC: Why did you want to decorate this space for Halloween? 

CM: Our dean, Joseph Valenzano, has a door decorating contest for [the College of Communication]. It’s been really great to see everybody get into the spirit and decorate. It’s nice to walk through the hallways and see everybody’s doors and be reminded that we have such a great family and close-knit culture here. We also want to showcase our building and engage students, so our marketing director Ross Hollebon is [having our] students vote for the best door decorations. 

TE: There’s a competition going on in Fairbanks, but that really wasn’t why we wanted to do it. We wanted to have fun. The competition was [a way for other people to do it], so you don’t feel silly. Mainly [we] want people to know where we are because some people that need to go to the Speaker’s Lab for a class have never been into Fairbanks before, especially freshmen. [This] way, our lab really stands out. People will be more likely to pop in [when] there are open office hours but also just for fun. I [also] think it’s a really difficult time in the semester for a lot of people, and some of the tutors coming in will hopefully have their spirits lifted by seeing silly decorations. 

TBC: Did you decorate this space alone or did you have help? 

BP: This was all me. [A] large box got delivered to my house with a keyboard in it, and then I [thought of] what [I could] do with that. Then during [a] family movie night, I created the giant cat, and then every weekend [after that] I just painted something else in my house courtesy of an Amazon box. Then I just [put it all up] on a Saturday so it could be a big surprise. 

EH: I put up all the bats and [I created] the “Don’t let the semester drive you batty” sign. But the bats were given to me by professor Vic Overdorf who is teaching core and history classes this semester. 

Photo by Natalie Goo

TBC: Do you think there is some importance to decorating your own space, especially during holidays? 

EH: I think it’s fun. Especially with [holidays] like Halloween or Valentine’s Day because things [seem like they] are getting darker and it’s kind of something to lighten [the world] up a little. 

CM: Yes, especially for professors. We spend a lot of our time here, and so I think being able to create an environment that shows students that we’re more than just professors and that we actually also enjoy holidays. I think it’s another good way that we engage students. It’s even funny that students who I don’t have a class [with or I] don’t know walk by and look at it. I think that’s why Dean Valenzano created [the competition]. It’s another way for us to have conversations with students and to engage [with them] and hear about their day. In the College of Communication, it’s important for us to have those opportunities to communicate. 

KP: Yes, [because it] creates a sense of community. I’ve really enjoyed being able to show my personality in a different way to students that I’ve interacted with. Oftentimes, they only see you in a very professional capacity, as it should be, but it’s nice when they come to see you for questions [and get a] different sense of your personality and feel welcome and invited into the space. 

Photo by Natalie Goo

These campus Halloween decorations serve as a reminder that Butler can be viewed as a professional environment while also fostering a sense of community between students and staff. Students should be sure to check out the decorations around Fairbanks and Jordan Hall before the spooky season comes to an end.


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