Res Life ends CRC skits — a campus tour ‘distraction’

Seth Freedland and Seth Freedland

If you have taken a campus tour since Fall 2002, odds are you saw The Arch, The Rock and a short skit on the lawn in front of the Communications Residential College.

But on Feb. 13, Virginia Koch, assistant director of Undergraduate Residential Life who oversees CRC, closed the curtain on what she called “theatrical distractions,” in an e-mail sent out to all CRC residents.

According to two-year CRC resident Joseph DeMartino, the skits occurred most Fridays, at around 2 p.m., which just “happens to coincide with a tour going by.”

The Medill sophomore said the skits lasted no more than five minutes and often included elaborate costumes. In one recent production, one student dressed as a Yeti, or bigfoot, and chased around “Yeti hunters.” Other students opt for more traditional superhero costumes.

DeMartino and CRC president Matt Repchak said the skits occurred either behind or on the side of the university-sponsored tours.

“Sometimes they won’t see it,” DeMartino said. “Sometimes they’ll laugh at it. The one time that someone ever said something to us was when a parent said, ‘You made my day.'”

The skits were not official CRC activities.

However, Koch saw the productions in a different light. In her e-mail, she wrote that they “interrupted and distracted” tours and “caused discomfort to staff and university guests.”

She cited two passages of the student handbook that outline the offenses, calling the skits an “obstruction of … university activities” and saying that they “interrupt … the carrying out of university business.”

Repchak, a Medill junior, said the skits were “never meant to harass” tour groups and any attempts to “classify us as a disruption, as if we’ve impeded the tour” are unfair.

NU suffers from a lack of “stupid little things,” according to Repchak. The addition of something “random and exciting,” such as the CRC skits, is what the campus needs.

Repchak said that since the skits began, it has been his mission to “make sure nothing gets in the way (of the tours).”

He said he believes Koch “circumvented the phrasing of the handbook to make her point.”

Tarun Patel, who has been a tour guide since Spring Quarter, said he would have to “get a little creative” on his tours to explain the costumed students.

“I told people they were a campus sketch comedy group publicizing,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “I could see how it would disrupt tours, but personally, I blew it off as a joke.”

Patel said Koch “made the right move” in asking CRC residents to cease.

“She didn’t overreact,” he said. “She didn’t get students in trouble. She just asked them to stop. If people are uncomfortable and it’s giving the university a bad reputation, I think it’s OK to tell them to hold off.”

Despite emphasizing that he will follow Koch’s wishes, Repchak said he believes the university is making too much out of the issue.

“A lot of people look forward to (the skits) every Friday, ” he said. “It created a community and not just with the dorm. (But) there’s nothing for us to fight when they’re making up the rules.”