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Game nights at Cobb bring fun back to the residence halls

Each Friday night, students and resident staff from the Cobb Residence Hall break out the cards and the board games in the common room. It's their weekly game night where residents are invited to join an evening of community immersion. 

During staff training, Cobb's new Community Director Patrick Preudhomme and Resident Advisor Madison Hurst introduced the idea of games as a vehicle for bringing together members of the residential community.  

Sophomore RA Cameron West finds the game nights inviting and a practical idea for encouraging community immersion.

"(Preudhomme) kind of rubbed off on all of us as a staff, especially Madison and myself, and we decided to further incorporate that into the residence so we could bring the whole community together even more." West said. 

While Hurst tends to play the role of 'host,' West often finds himself playing alongside the residents. 

"The whole night is full of energy, passion for the games that we're playing, and all around friendly people," West said. 

According to Hurst and West, crowd favorites include "Werewolves" — a version of the popular game "Mafia" —  "Forbidden Island" and "Settlers of Catan."  West said some Fridays, up to 25 students have participated and interest is growing.

 "It's kind of like a chain reaction — it's building and building and building," West said. 

Going forward, West eventually envisions more participants and multiple games occurring simultaneously.   

Hurst engaged in a similar group her first year at UNC. When students living in her hall wanted to socialize, but did not necessarily want to go out, they began hosting their own game nights. 

Madison became good friends with all of these people, she said.  

"A lot of people come into the University with this image of what hall life is going to be like, where everyone's friends with each other and everyone's meeting each other. Once you get here, especially in a quiet dorm like Cobb, you realize that it's not necessarily that easy," Hurst said. "The more I talk to students, the more I realize that people can live next to each other, have so much in common and never meet each other."  

As an RA, she was particularly excited about being able to publicize and gather greater participation for something that she has enjoyed during her time here.

"I love meeting people, and I love getting people connected on campus to things they find interesting," Hurst said.  

As a former RA, Preudhomme used games to connect with his residents as well. 

"It’s a great way for friends to get together and have an experience that isn’t always about academics," Preudhomme said.  

Preudhomme sends a weekly newsletter to the members of Cobb advertising the social activities hosted by the residence hall. 

"It's really important because it builds a sense of community," he said. "The way I look at it, being in a residence hall is like your house. I feel like for you to get other people to be passionate about something you have to be passionate about it yourself."

Both Hurst and West said they have received positive feedback from residents thus far. Cobb's group activities have extended into other spheres as well. The residence staff has introduced a series of "Interest Groups" ranging from sports to food to event hopping, which residents can join using GroupMe. Resident advisors would like to facilitate a transition to more resident-based leadership of each week's game night.  

Sophomore Hanna Isley has stepped into one of those roles. As the community enhancement officer of community government, she looks forward to using this event as a jumping off point for more programming. The event is unlike any other social event held in her previous residence hall.

"It allows you to get to know people outside of your friend circle, meet new people from different backgrounds or different places, and it builds that community that you would want in a dorm," Isley said. 

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On behalf of Cobb community government, Isley said there were no concrete plans in the works at the moment but that they will look to spread the word, increase participation and gather more input on game night for the future.