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Annual Haunted Hill event unites students in fright, fun and community spirit

Pictured are scare actors at the Haunted Hill event, which featured live performances and candy giveaways. The event was hosted by the On-Campus Housing Council. (Courtesy of UCLA Housing)

By Dylan Winward

Oct. 29, 2023 6:52 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 29 at 8:36 p.m.

For Gaurav Varma, returning to the Hill during Halloween season after moving off-campus earlier this year was a frightening experience.

“There was this girl in a wedding dress who was just standing there,” Varma said. “I thought it was a mannequin, and then she started chasing us, and it was terrifying.”

Varma was one of over 100 students to attend the Haunted Hill event at Covel Commons on Thursday. UCLA’s On-Campus Housing Council hosted the event, which was inspired by horror movies and television shows and featured decorated rooms, live actors and free candy.

The event centered around a maze in Covel Commons’ Grand Horizon room. Students attending entered the maze in groups of eight and were told to follow the maze pathway and avoid touching props or scare actors.

Within the maze, rooms were themed around films and television shows including “The Menu,” “The Nun,” “Stranger Things” and “It.” Each room featured costumed actors who jumped out and performed improvised dialogue.

Leo Jude, a third-year linguistics student, said he enjoyed the theme of the event after attending for the second year in a row.

“They incorporated a lot of scenes from iconic movies and shows, so that was really cool to recognize,” he said. “We really got scared, and I can’t spoil things but screamed a lot.”

Tina Abedi, a second-year cognitive science student, said she felt the event was better than last year’s because of the added theme. She also said she felt the event was well-planned, especially given the restrictions on resources and space.

“There were a lot of student actors doing their bits, and they were dedicated to their role,” Abedi said. “It was scary.”

Mike McCormick, the assistant director of leadership involvement for UCLA Residential Life, said the event is a 10-year residential student government tradition. He added that the event was organized by students on the On-Campus Housing Council in collaboration with UCLA Residential Life’s program support team and a private vendor to plan the event.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Residential Life said a funding and advisory committee makes decisions about which events to host on the Hill. They added that the Haunted Hill had been held a number of times to celebrate Halloween.

“OCHC has hosted Haunted Hill for over 10 years, giving students a chance to be frightened and celebrate the spirit of Halloween,” they said in the emailed statement.

McCormick also said that although some professional actors were used in hosting the event, the majority of the scare actors, planners and makeup artists were students.

Abedi said she felt Haunted Hill was a good opportunity to meet other people who live on the Hill, especially for students who are new to campus. She added that when she attended her first year, she met new people, and that made her want to attend again.

“I feel like it’s a good way to get people, especially first years or people who aren’t familiar with the Hill, to get out of their dorms (and) try something new,” she said. “We met a lot of new people when we did it as freshmen.”

Varma, a fourth-year business economics and philosophy student, said he felt the event was an important opportunity to build community. He added that he liked the event because it provided an opportunity for students to get scared during the Halloween season free of charge.

“I think it helps build community. I think it’s nice,” he said. “Students are poor, and it’s free, it gives us something to do.”

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Dylan Winward | News editor
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
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