The University of Chicago’s residential system welcomes first-years into communities with robust traditions—but between new faces, names and terminology, there’s a lot to learn. That’s why Larry and Cathe McEnerney, resident deans for Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons (GGRC) East, host a scavenger hunt to acclimate incoming students to the residence hall each year.
The McEnerneys have served as resident deans (RDs) in GGRC East since 2009. Working in collaboration with the rest of the housing team, RDs act as intellectual stewards for their cluster of residential houses and host a variety of hall-wide programs. All RDs host unique Activities Nights for their residence halls during O-Week to welcome students to campus. Just as students enter the College in their residence hall communities, they also graduate with their halls. From start to finish, RDs support students’ housing experience.
Sporting the official green graduation cords of GGRC East, the McEnerneys kicked off the event for their eleventh and final time. Students gathered in small groups and complete a series of activities, puzzles and other tasks scattered around the building. The hunt sends students crisscrossing over GGRC’s courtyard with stops in the building’s communal house lounges and other key locations, like the mail room and the resident dean’s apartment. In a large building that is home to some 800 students, an event like this gives students a lay of the land while encouraging some friendly competition. Winners take home the coveted GGRC East “Deans’ Scav Hunt” t-shirts and achieve what Larry McEnerney calls “immortality”—their names inscribed on the plaque of the GGRC Deans’ Scav Hunt champions.
"When the first-year students come in, they tend to spend their first couple of days focused solely on their own house. The GGRC East scav hunt sets them out all over the building—they have to go to the basement, the 5th floor study lounge, all four of the lounges, and GGRC West," said Larry McEnerney, who also serves as director of the University Writing Programs. "That way, they get comfortable with the building's layout and meet people throughout the hall."
Students had to follow obscure clues to match with their teammates. From there, they raced to challenges throughout the house lounges, which ranged from assembling a block model of GGRC to staging a performance as a team.
“The coolest thing to me was learning the geography of GGRC,” said first-year Cathey House resident Laura Gersony. “It's such a beautiful building, and I found nice spots that I never would've discovered otherwise. The view from the Wendt House lounge is gorgeous!”
After the GGRC scav hunt wrapped up, students showcased their skills—from music to stand-up to magic—in GGRC East’s open mic.
“My favorite part of Cathey House is hands down the people I've met,” Gersony said. “They've all been so welcoming and friendly, which has really made me feel comfortable going into fall quarter.”
At the end of this academic year, Larry and Cathe will be retiring from the University and their roles as Resident Deans after being with the hall since its opening in 2009.
“These students are living some incredible years of their lives, and we get to help where we can,” Larry McEnerney said. “The relationships are an incredible part of the job, and those relationships are going to last.”