Ghoulish laughs and blood curdling screams echoed through the halls of UW-Milwaukee’s Mitchell Hall on Saturday, Oct. 19 as guests made their way through the haunted house on the building’s third floor.
The new public event to campus was organized by Peck School of the Arts students who collaborated to frighten guests to raise funds for their scholarship foundation.
Guests ventured through the haunted house room by room. The rooms were designed to create terrifying scenes such as a spooky graveyard, an insane asylum run by a blood soaked doctor, a sinister circus, and a room full of infectious zombies.
UWM junior Deanna Lewis originally thought of the idea last October as a way to raise money and to meet and work with students in other departments.
“In the Halloween spirit, I really wanted to go to a Haunted House last year, but of course to plan an event like this in two weeks was not possible,” Lewis said. “I then spent a few months thinking about what each department could contribute to the event to really showcase the strengths of each discipline of art.”
Lewis said that the event was important because the arts program does not have much to offer to its students in terms of extra funds for scholarships. Lewis said that this fact inspired the event.
“It is well known that the arts are very underfunded and it is seen in schools and in the community that when there are cuts to make, the arts always go first,” Lewis said. “I wanted to take charge and change that somehow.”
Lewis said that the Black and Gold committee discussed ways for students to collaborate with one another. The committee consists of a group of students and faculty within the Peck School of the Arts that represent a section within the department. Each of those representatives meets to plan events that students can work on together.
The haunted house event marks the first time that students from different programs within the Peck School of the Arts worked together on a larger scale to raise funds for scholarships. Nearly 50 students from dance, art, film, theatre and music built and designed sets in separate rooms that offered a unique and frightening experience as guests made their way through in panic.
“Art is a really great community to be a part of because we all share a similar passion, but we demonstrate it in different ways,” Lewis said. “I also thought it was really important to find more ways to raise scholarship money.”
Students put in time and effort on a weekly basis for the first six weeks of the semester for planning. UWM junior Lauren Miller, who was involved in one of the planning committees, said that everyone involved had a specific role in order for the event to run as smoothly as possible.
“A lot of planning had to go in to make sure it would come across as a true, scary haunted house,” Miller said. “Everyone had something they could recommend or help with to play their part. Everyone brought their creativity and skills to take it over the top.”
Lewis said that the event raised a total of $635 that will directly be deposited into the Peck School of the Arts scholarship foundation. The event was a success in terms of raising money and frightening guests who were brave enough to walk through the smoky haze and into the unknown.
Security guard Erik Carlson could hear the screams and witness guests’ reactions as they walked down the stairs as he stood near the exit. One moment that stood out to him during the night was when two UWM police officers made their way out of the haunted house.
“They seemed pretty scared,” Carlson said. “One of the officers said he hasn’t been to a haunted house in years, but this was one of the best he’s ever been to.”
Lewis said that while she was hoping for a better turn out, she thinks that excellent progress was made for a first time event.
“It was a great way to meet students in other departments and introduce transferring students and freshmen to the Peck School of the Arts,” Lewis said. “I hope this event continues to happen annually as a way to meet new people and raise money for our school.”
Lewis said that the success of the event will help students within the Peck School of the Arts earn more recognition for their artistic talent.
“I feel as though the arts have a lot to prove, and if we can showcase our talents with this event to the school and within the community perhaps people will gain more respect for us that we have a lot to contribute to the world,” Lewis said.