English Department Family Fun

The English Department comes together to celebrate Halloween


A strong sense of community is something that is felt greatly throughout the English department. The annual English Department Halloween Party is a great example to showcase the love and community between the faculty, staff, and students. 

On Thursday, October 27th Dr. Kyle Garton-Gundling hosted the second annual “Spooky English Department Halloween Party” post-pandemic. The flier emphasized an open mic, a costume contest, and spontaneous halloween haikus. 

“Our goal is that English department members can combine their love of literature and writing with their fondness for the Fall season,” Dr. Garton-Gundling explained. 

Dr. Kevin Shortsleeve is a lover of all things Halloween and has been enjoying English department Halloween events for years. “When I first got here in 2009, I would host ghost story evenings around this time of year and students would come and read short passages of ghost stories,” Dr. Shortsleeve said. “When I lived in Boston I would have parties of 60 to 70 people with costumes [and] pumpkin carving. It was pretty wild.” 

This annual Halloween event along with other events and get togethers hosted by the English department are appreciated by all students involved with the English major and minors. Junior Allie Fiul explained, “I am in English and political science and I feel like the English department does a lot for its students. It is really nice in terms of actually engaging with us.”

The students newer to the English department are also very appreciative of the effort the faculty and staff puts in to connect with its students. “I used to be more of a Computer Science major, so I haven’t been to many English things. I feel like English is one of those departments where everyone is very welcoming and tightnit,” said Sophie Garner, junior. “ I like seeing professors outside of their teaching environment and getting to chat with them as normal human beings. It has been very easy to connect with professors.”

Sophomore Kalen Anderson said, “My experience with everyone is that they are really fun and just really welcoming in general.” Anderson recently made the switch to being an English major and was excited to go to the Halloween party to meet other English majors. Anderson encourages everyone to, “Be an English major, it’s really cool and everyone here is really nice.”

When asked to describe community within the department, English department fan favorite, Vickie Garton-Gundling said, “Warmth and its family. And not in the way that toxic employers try to say it’s a family so they can exploit you. It is actually family.” Mrs. Garton-Gundling is the secretary for the English department and is loved by all students and faculty. “As the secretary I see every faculty member interact with every other faculty member and they all just really love each other and enjoy each other academically [and] as human people.” Mrs. Garton-Gundling explained how the students always feel comfortable coming into the office and to events hosted by the English department. “It’s kind of a home away from home which I think is really important when they are away from their families.”

Of course it is not a Halloween party without a costume contest. Both students and faculty were encouraged to dress up and many did not disappoint. Students who came in costume paraded around the tables in a line and followed by a vote from each attendee. 

Seniors Brenna Walch and Cooper Albright were declared the winners with their impressive Pokémon Trainer and Gardevoir cosplay. “I feel jacked. I feel absolutely enormous winning this,” Albright exclaimed. 

Walch is an English major and was excited to win the contest because “it feels nice doing something fun our last year.” Walch and Albright have been cosplaying together for four years and plan to continue cosplaying together after they graduate.

Walch describes the community of the English department as being a family away from biological family. “I am going to miss college a lot when I graduate because of all the great people I have  met and interacted with in the English departments. They have been so inspirational to me in my own English work.”

The English department has proven to be a very close community that works to build up one another and focuses on making it a healthy and happy environment for all. Dr. Kara Keeling said, “I think it’s wonderful how a number of our younger faculty, like Dr. Garton-Gundling, who organized this event, are making the English Department a vital and fun place to be.”