Crickets spike fear in the eyes of attendees in freshman seminar haunted house


Alana Auber / Hilltop Views

Visitors enter the haunted house located on the second floor of the Munday Library.

The blinds of Munday Library are drawn closed and the lobby has been rearranged into a waiting room. Freshman dressed in lab coats are on standby, preparing to examine their “patients.” The waiting students are clutching symptom sheets for something called the “cricket illness” (the Freshman class’s explanation for the stress students experience on campus) that they were asked to fill out in their hands as they wait to be taken through the makeshift haunted house.

While other classes may have taken a written test or gave an oral presentation, this seminar class decided to stand out from the crowd and have fun. The youth culture freshman seminar class called “The Play is the Thing,” put together a haunted house in the Munday Library on Halloween night for their midterm.

When new students come to St. Edward’s, many are unfamiliar with the vast resources that are present on campus. Playwright and professor for the course Timothy Braun wanted to address this problem and show the freshman the various resources St. Edward’s has to offer. This “multimodal project encourages teamwork, creativity and research,” Braun said. “But there’s other dirty tricks involved, as well: analyze the resources of St. Edward’s.”

The class studied various articles on horror and audience to prepare themselves for the project and how best to approach it. They also studied the St. Edward’s mission statement and the rhetoric used. Their original aim was to construct the haunted house around the themes of the mission statement but decided to do something contemporary, revolving around a problem all students face: stress.

A few weeks ago, St. Edward’s, and much of South Texas had a cricket infestation. While crickets are usually seen around Texas this time of year, the swarm was much larger than normal, and many students were disturbed seeing them all over campus. Along with the crickets, the fall season brings sickness, not to mention stress due to midterms and the end of the semester fast approaching. The students took these elements and put them together to create something interesting: a sickness brought on by crickets that causes anxiety, sleep deprivation, insanity, and a strange craving for grass.

The students were divided into four groups and each had a role in guiding the guests through the haunted house to educate them about the cricket sickness and to immerse them in the fantasy. At first, there were more guests than the students anticipated and it led to a slow start. People were annoyed and grew impatient, pulling them out of the atmosphere. However, the students improvised and adjusted their routine to accommodate the large crowd and the later groups enjoyed the event. 

Despite the rough start, those who attended the event enjoyed their time. While the guests feel the students could have done more to make the experience scarier, they appreciated the effort put into the event. “I think it’s really neat that they all got together and they did something for the community, and they gave me something to do on Halloween,” student Isaac Rodriguez-Bernardez said.

The students all had varying opinions on the project itself, but theater major Nicolai Diaz enjoyed the experience overall. “The whole planning process was stressful because there was a lack of communication, but in the end we all pulled through together…[and] it was a lot of fun when it was actually time to put on the haunted house because we got to interact with people we were planning to interact with.”