As the year comes to a close, students begin to prepare outfits and pregaming plans for one of the biggest celebrations on the residential side of campus: the Graduation Center of the Universe Party (COUP). This year’s Graduation COUP, as per tradition, was planned by thesis students Melody Scott and Corinna Carroll, hungry to put on the party of New College student’s dreams. “New College Through the Looking Glass” will transform the Pei campus into a wonderland with immersive visuals, charming live music and various homages to the movie most young adults grew up with: Alice in Wonderland.
All current students know that COUP covers most of campus with revamped favorite outdoor areas to reflect the theme voted on by the student body.
“I really like Alice in Wonderland,” Carroll detailed, who funnily enough shares the same surname as the author of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. “It’s a childhood movie I grew up on. It’s exciting to bring some of this to life, especially in the COUP setting.”
“Everybody knows how terrible things have been recently, and I feel like Alice in Wonderland in some ways represents the campus and how unique it is,” Scott said. “I don’t know what direction the school is [going in] from here. I don’t know what people might have access to next year, so I wanted this to be the best [COUP] that we could make.”
How exactly are the hosts bringing Wonderland to life?
The Nook: The Caterpillar’s Mushroom
The Nook will be home to the one and only hookah-smoking caterpillar, referred to by some as Absolem or Russel. Looking up from under the banyan tree, the Caterpillar will be suspended from the tree by a fishing line, stuffed with donated plastic bags and trinkets and put together by Carroll. The Caterpillar was basically her child, she detailed, even scaring her roommates.
“They thought it was a body,” Carroll said. “It was living on my couch.”
The hosts plan to surround the Caterpillar with faux smoke rings, some spelling out phrases such as, “Who are you?” Giant mushrooms will encircle the banyan and the classic COUP couches will be perfect for viewing live bands such as Eyelid Cinema, Hovercar, The Tilt, Chicken Machine and Sungrazer.
Old Mail Room (OMR): Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
Walking into the OMR, party-goers “fall into the rabbit hole,” similarly to how the white rabbit fell in the iconic franchise. A tree featuring the hole with a rabbit seemingly falling in will be observed as one walks towards the room. Once in the room, handmade paper teacups and flowers will line the walls and ceiling, setting the perfect stage for student DJs to showcase their playlists.
The large table will be placed in the middle of the room, in just the right spot for an impromptu tea party. But don’t fret, all pieces on the table will be paper or plastic, so tabletop dancing is still in the books for one of the most exciting nights for New College students.
Z Amphitheater (Z-Amp): Queen of Hearts’ Rose Garden
Beware! Card guards will be present. Although, their presence won’t deter the good time party goers will have with this interactive area. Visitors will be able to paint white paper rose bushes red to take home while listening to live bands such as Sungrazer, Chicken Machine, Witch Hiatus, The Drain Outs and Drunken Queers.
Behind the seating area will be a croquet game set, ready to play, surrounded by classic lawn flamingos. Along with the roses, paper crowns will also be available to take home as a souvenir of one of the wildest nights on campus.
Palm Court: The Fork in the Road
Which way to go? Signs will point in any and every direction in Palm Court, so visitors might as well stay for a good time, tuning into student DJ sets and taking in their perfectly decorated surroundings. The Cheshire Cat will make a celebrity appearance in Palm Court, donning his typical, wide smile. Colorful fabrics and plastic table covers will be wrapped around each palm tree, mimicking the wondrous look of the forest Alice must navigate in the 1951 movie.
“There’s a scene where there are these little ‘Mome Raths’ and there are signs that say ‘Don’t step on the Mome Raths,’” Scott stated. “They’re just these little colorful guys with two legs, and they run around on the ground. We’re going to have those and hopefully people will take them. They’re cute!”
“We’re having a lot of fun with crafts,” Carroll chimed in.
Band Room: Through the Keyhole
Alice chases the White Rabbit through the keyhole and into…the Band Room? Students will have the opportunity to walk through the keyhole themselves, as hosts have constructed a life-sized version to be adhered to the doorway coupled with signs that say “Follow the rabbit” or “You’re late!” In the room itself will be a gaffer tape checker-style floor complemented by giant chess pieces found in the Four Winds. Student DJs will perform surrounded by scurrying white rabbits and atmospheric lighting.
HCL7: Cooldown Room
Typical of any recent COUP is the inclusion of a “cooldown room.” Here, students who are overstimulated, in need of a dance break or looking for a bottle of water can gather throughout the night. The room will be decorated with leftover flowers from the OMR and Z-Amp. With funds provided by the New College Student Alliance (NCSA) and fundraising efforts, hosts have purchased a mat for seating—a great alternative to the carpeted floor. Blankets from the NCSA Closet will also be available for students to use as they cool down.
COUP planning and hosting takes a team—while Scott and Carroll took care of most preparations, they had their roommates and previous COUP hosts to thank. $leazy Graduation COUP co-host Jessica Edmonds (‘22) and Vampire COUP and Where the Wild Things Are COUP co-host and thesis student Nick Beck offered advice for fundraising and keeping planning on track.
For those who have not received them yet, Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SAUCE) will be distributing wristbands for students and their guests from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. until May 12. Resident Advisors (RA) will be doing the same until May 11 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the RA Resource Room.