Hammocks, relaxation and bonding

Resident Assistant at Zachary Taylor Hall and sophomore communication major Helen Launey and freshman kinesiolgy major Audrey Mena relax in Zachary Taylor Hall’s courtyard between classes. Launey uses hammocks in the courtyard to get to know her residents better and bond with them. Zachary Araki/The Lion’s Roar

Resident Assistant at Zachary Taylor Hall and sophomore communication major Helen Launey put up hammocks in the courtyard to build connections with her residents. 

Launey explained that the idea for using the courtyard as a hammock area arose when she got a hammock.

Launey said, “I ended up going to set it up in the courtyard of ZT where they have those trees, and I thought, ‘Man, this could be a really good idea for us to do to get residents to engage with one another and to utilize a very unique space that is the only residential hall that has it is Zachary Taylor Hall.’”

Launey feels excited by the courtyard’s potential. She discussed how the area has helped her get to know her residents better.

“As an RA, we’re supposed to be role models,” said Launey. “We’re supposed to be leaders. We’re supposed to be there for our residents, but we’re also supposed to be a resource, and when I’m down there engaging with them, it’s like a whole different atmosphere because I get to know them one-on-one or in a group like setting. So, I get to know what they’re like, who their friends are, and the ins and outs of the building.”

According to Launey, the hammock area’s popularity has grown since its establishment earlier in the semester.

“The first day we actually did it, it was me and one other resident, and then it’s blossomed into this really big thing where we have over 10 residents coming out and hammocking,” said Launey. “We also have the ones who don’t have hammocks yet that are talking about going to purchase their own so they could hammock with us.”

Sophomore criminal justice major Antonica Frazier believes the experience allows residents to move past their comfort zone and not feel afraid to meet new people. 

Frazier said, “It’s a great way for students to relax, especially after a stressful day from studying, taking exams, or you just feel like you need a temporary mental escape. So, sitting outside is one of the most beautiful ways to do it. I’m a nature girl, so I love nature too. Being outside makes me feel like I’m one with nature.”

Freshman athletic training major William Cushenberry sees the experience as a good alternative to “being cooped in your room all the time.”

“You see new faces more, talk about more stuff that you didn’t know you had in common, so more of a social experiment, basically for freshmen to get along with people more,” said Cushenberry. “Any new resident here, they can come join us. They can meet new people.”

Freshman kinesiology major Audrey Mena feels having the hammocks in the courtyard helps with socialization.

“It keeps us socialized in a nice environment,” said Mena. “The weather is good right now. It’s springtime, so it gives us somewhere to interact with each other on some hammocks.”

To put up the hammocks in the courtyard, Launey worked with University Housing.

“I pitched my idea, and they were kind of leery at first because they didn’t understand what hammocks we were going to be using,” said Launey. “They thought they were stationary when it’s actually little to-go hammocks that you can put in a tiny bag, take it with you, and put it up on a tree. So, I had to explain to them what it was and show them.” 

After getting approval from housing, Launey spoke with housing about cleaning up the area.

“They said they’ll actually come out and cut the grass,” said Launey. “It’ll take them some time to trim the bushes, but when they do come out to trim the bushes, they’ll put mulch down. So, we’ll have our own unique little space that’s for our residents to come out, hang out, study, get to know one another and just have a good time.”

Launey would like to form a hammock club “where everyone could just get together and hang out.”

Launey said, “A bunch of my residents have been talking about it becoming like a club. So, we would have to go through the proper channels to figure out how to go about doing that because there’s some places on campus I know you can’t hammock from like Friendship Circle. You can’t hammock from the oak tree, stuff like that.”

Frazier sees the courtyard as an example that other dormitories could follow. 

“I feel like other dorms should do this, or just have some other way for students to interact outside of being in their dorms or have more school events that are related to the same thing,” said Frazier.