Hell Week: Jenn tells of terror and trepidation
By biconews On 22 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Jenn Grackin

“Welcome to HELL, froshies!”

Those words still scare the crap out of me, two years after my own Hell Week. Thinking back, what I actually had to do during my Hell Week was pretty tame and nothing really happened that would justify the feelings of terror I had. I guess the terror, combined with the unbridled anticipation of the unknown, are what make Hell Week at Bryn Mawr one of the best experiences Mawrters can have.

The feelings of terror surfaced early, maybe two weeks before Hell Week. I began to worry about not having a heller. So, I started asking around. You see, the only sophomore I really knew, outside of my customs people, happened to be helling with one of my customs people. Therefore she couldn’t hell me. When she told me this, I actually went back to my room and cried because I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to participate in Hell Week.

I don’t remember who it was - it might have been my Customs person or her friend - but someone set me up with a sophomore on the third floor (I lived in Merion). Although I didn’t know her, I accepted because she seemed nice and I wanted to be helled.

My terror only continued to build in the days leading up to the night of schedule copying, when I dutifully copied my dorm schedule and got out of a Potato Lecture because I knew the name of the fraternity in “Animal House.” Then I went on the scavenger hunt and learned that there were pigeons in Dalton, and that February rain is the coldest rain that you could imagine.

When I woke up the next morning, it was Dorm Dress-Up Day and, since I lived in Merion, the theme was “ghosts,” in memory of Lillian, the ghost of Merion. Many people wore sheets, but since all of my sheets were blue plaid and patterned, I was not in the position to be a traditional ghost. Instead, I dressed all in black, powdered my face, wore a sign that said “BOO,” and got on the bus to Haverford. Lucky me - I was taking all of my classes over there that semester and had to have my Hell Week on a campus that didn’t quite understand what I was doing.

That day I performed my assigned tasks, including interviewing professors about Olympic events and looking spooky. That night was the first night of performances (that was back in the day when all performances were actually held in Erdman and there were two days of performances). Again, lucky me - I had to work. That was the real hell of Hell Week.

That night, I returned from work and went to trials. I was absolutely terrified that they were going to try me for something dreadfully embarrassing, since I had been a wild little frosh. I sat on the floor of Merion living room, almost ready to throw up. When my turn came, my crime turned out to be “liking Villanova too much,” and my punishment was to exclaim “Yay, Villanova!” every hour on the hour. I won’t lie to you; I did not enjoy trials. But, as I learned later (as a member of the Hell Week Committee), there was no way I could have been tried for anything really horrible. (If I had been, it would have bordered on a violation of the Social Honor Code).

The next morning, since I had classes during the day, I spent the morning taking pictures of faculty, staff and students holding a rainbow-colored “squishy fish” and dutifully carrying out my punishment. At 4 p.m., I was led blindfolded off the Blue Bus to Confinement. If I remember

correctly, I spent most of it making things out of construction paper and watching movies.

That night was the official night of performances, but I didn’t participate because of an acute case of stage fright.

Instead, I just watched and waited. Later the seniors read us bedtime stories and then they ran us around the dorm.

The next morning, I woke up at 5:45 a.m. for the Duck Pond Run, but I never made it there.

The rest of my hell Week is a blur of homework, Dorm Olympics, and the relief I felt when it was all over.

At the end of Hell Week, I remember feeling like I had participated in something unique. It made me realize that Bryn Mawr was where I belonged. It’s that sentiment that I try to pass on to all the frosh I meet.

Last year I was a heller to three wonderful frosh, and this year I’m a sympathetic junior to nine frosh. I love Hell Week, even if I didn’t necessarily appreciate it when it was my turn.

I look back on that week and still feel the terror deep in my soul, but I think that’s part of what made it so exciting and what still makes it exciting. It seems that every time I participate in Hell Week, it’s almost like the first time. When I think of it like that, it makes me appreciate where I am and just how special Bryn Mawr is.

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