B Dorm resident adviser (RA), Palm Court Party thrower, and coordinator for campus engagement are just some of the many hats that alumna Konnie Kruczek (’95) has worn in her 15 years at New College. Kruczek oversees the AmeriCorps VISTA Program that fuels volunteerism on campus, in addition to planning Orientation Week. Kruczek also represented New College at New College of Oxford in England during her time as a student and holds a masters in education from the University of Florida. The Catalyst sat down with Kruczek to discuss what her time at New College was like in the days of having only 500 students and what were some of her fondness memories of the college before the start of the millennium.
So tell me about your time at New College.
(laughs) So, yeah I was actively involved in lots of things, I was always outside. There was a corner of Palm Court and they put a sign that said “Konnie’s Corner” because I was always outside. And like I said, I was in student government, RA in B Dorm. Lots of activities.
How did you end up here?
I came in 2000 to run the Keys to the Future grant which is a three year partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and that was its own little program, but it was housed in Student Affairs, and at the time there was a housing director, a student activities person and I think that was it. I just saw a lot of things not getting done and from a student’s perspective, I wanted to do more to help the students directly.
How is it being a student and then working here?
In the beginning, its always hard and any alum will tell you that because you’re trying to figure out your boundaries, because you want to advocate on behalf of students and that’s not always appropriate depending on what your job is. I think its always appropriate to advocate for students because its a learning process and its our job. I guess that contradicted itself. In terms of your job and how much you can get involved. You know, I can advocate for a student but not always agree with what it is that I’m advocating for. I’m trying to assist them and help them and support them. So I think, in the beginning its hard to separate friendship and social activities. You have to be very intentional about not participating in certain social events or even going to thing because you don’t want to be perceived as unprofessional.
What was the culture of B Dorm like? Same as it is now?
(laughs again) Social misfits. Because when I was a student, we only had Pei, so there were doubles in Pei, and then there was thesis housing in Viking [dorm], and those were singles, and B Dorm. So if you didn’t want a roommate or couldn’t live with other people in a roommate situation, you chose B Dorm. And when I was a student, one side was girls, and one side was boys.
What was it like to be the RA of B Dorm?
At first it was very intimidating because I hadn’t lived there first and there was a lot of older students, so I was always intimidated to go over there and suddenly be their RA, but they turned out to all be really accepting and it turned out to be the best place ever.
Is it true one time you threw an event where B Dorm ran to the other side of campus?
Yeah, I did B Dorm Awareness Week… We wanted to bring awareness to B Dorm because you know how its a rumor every year that they’re going to shut it down and its sinking into the ground, so we wanted to bring awareness to it in order to preserve it. We had a bunch of people in B Dorm sponsor different events like talks throughout the week that were highly academic, like the gendered spaces of B Dorm and how it affected people. At the time, we were fighting with the University of South Florida (USF) because they were building a student center next to B Dorm where the health and wellness center is. That used to be a USF student center and we didn’t want them outside our bedroom window, so we did like a film series about war games and being a power player. We had dinners and stuff and then we ended the week with a parade into Palm Court where we all dressed in bee things and created floats with all the housing carts and stuff. The parade probably had 40 or 50 people so we showed up at the wall at midnight and…interrupted things.
How is New College different?
You know, I go back and forth on that. I think the academics are the same, you know? We’ve always had top notch amazing professors and amazing access to the professors and quality relationships with your adviser and that’s never changed, that’s the core of New College. I think students change in what they want. The biggest change is probably internet access. Before that, students were forced to go outside and hang out with each other and communicate directly.
What’s the most messed up thing you’ve ever seen happen here?
[When I was a student] there was a lot more streaking before people could take photos on their phones, when they didn’t have fear of being documented forever.
So you threw Chinese PCP.
I think it was actually Cultural Revolution PCP. I was a good PCP thrower because I’m very detail oriented and I’m good at keeping everybody on track on a timeline. I just remember lanterns. Whenever I hosted events in Palm Court, I would always bring out furniture, like blow-up furniture, lots of space for people to sit outside. We usually had bands playing for PCP. I was in a band.
Oh, really? What was your band?
Doofnordorink. I think it was the letters from “no food or drink.” it was a spin-off of a band called “Brothers from Another Mother” and we played funk. I was the singer. [We were like Physical Plant] we performed at events and downtown. We had bongos, a sax, a bass guitar, everything.