Pelton embraces Emerson's Halloween spirit

by Deirdre Murray / Beacon Correspondent • October 23, 2013

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An image of President M. Lee Pelton's house and a design template was provided to participants.
courtesy of Leigha Morris
An image of President M. Lee Pelton's house and a design template was provided to participants.
courtesy of Leigha Morris

Halloween is a holiday of traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, dressing up in a costume, or going to a Halloween party, the day is marked by customs that seem as old as the holiday itself. This year, Emerson’s Student Government Association tried incorporating President M. Lee Pelton into a new tradition by hosting a Halloween contest.

Trick or Lee is an event that gave students the opportunity to decide what Pelton’s Halloween costume and house decorations will be, according to Leigha Morris, a junior marketing communication major and public relations chair for SGA.

The contest was split into two different phases, said Morris. The first allowed students to pick out a Halloween costume for Pelton, while the second let students choose what decorations will be on his house in Beacon Hill. Participants, she said, could feature their designs by drawing on a Pelton paper doll and on the mock-up template of Pelton’s house. 

The contests were limited to a designated budget: $150 for decorations and $50 for costumes, Morris said. Besides the budget restrictions and a PG-13 content rating, she said students were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild.

According to Morris, Trick or Lee is the first event SGA has organized that has directly involved Pelton.

The contest required students to enter their submissions in teams of three to 10 members, according to the event’s Facebook page.  The page also encouraged residence hall floors, student organizations, and groups of friends to submit their ideas, which Morris said reflects the community aspect Pelton was hoping to achieve. 

“He was talking to us about wanting to start a new tradition at school,” she said. “Just something fun for the whole community to get involved with.” 

Applications were due Oct. 20 and the winner was selected at the Oct. 22 SGA meeting. Freshman performing arts major, Emily White, was chosen as the costume winner for her David Karp , founder of Tumblr, design. No entires were submitted for Pelton’s home. 

The ideas for costumes ranged from contemporary to classics, according to Morris. White thought Emerson’s fashion staples of oversized glasses and flannel shirts would suit Pelton best.

“I feel like President Lee as a hipster would be really funny,” she said. “I think that something with a social commentary to it would be better than a traditional Halloween costume.”

Eli Levy, a freshman performing arts major, said he envisions Pelton as more of a Caped Crusader, to reflect his superhero qualities. 

“I’m pretty sure the president could make a good Batman,” he said.  “I mean, I don’t know what he does when he’s not being president. For all I know, he really could be Batman.”

As for the decorating contest, Dorothy Tomasini, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major, said she thinks the stereotypical Halloween decorations would be best for the president’s home.

“I’d try to make it look like a haunted mansion,” she said. “Go all out with graveyard stuff and make it as creepy as possible.”

While students said they are excited about the contest alone, the opportunity to interact with Pelton is another major aspect of the event. 

Wesley Emblidge, a freshman visual and media arts major, said he thought this kind of behavior from the college’s president was refreshing. 

“When I was in high school, our principal was not involved in anything,” he said. “I didn’t even know what he looked like for a lot of the time. So it’s cool that a president would do something like this. I wouldn’t expect that.”

Emblidge also said he thinks the contest is an example of Pelton’s commitment to interacting with students. 

“It’s a great way to make it feel like he’s more of a presence, because you can be involved with him.”

Andrea Torres, a junior marketing communication major, said she felt Pelton’s engagement brings a sense of community not only for the holiday, but for the college as a whole.

“Not many presidents would do that,” she said. “ It’s very personal. It shows that we don’t have that structure that he’s above everyone. It shows that he’s with us.”