SHARE
Male stu­dents, dubbed the “Koon Dawgs,” have moved into the Koon Res­i­dence this year. / Joe Pap­palardo

The first shot hit senior Tara Ung in the stomach.

The next one came from the Nerf pistol placed in her hand, while Austin Coe, the freshman assailant, braced himself for retal­i­ation. Plastic lightsabers mate­ri­alized from another corner of the room, and sud­denly the stu­dents in the Koon Res­i­dence lobby found them­selves attacked by a flurry of foam weaponry. Within minutes, the whole men’s dor­mitory erupted in flailing lightsabers, foam swords, and flying pro­jec­tiles.

By all signs, Koon is no longer a women’s dorm — and its 24 res­i­dents, freshmen through seniors, have bonded quite well.

“Everybody already knows each other,” freshman Paul Esposito said.

A women’s res­i­dence since 2014, Koon became a men’s dorm again this year to accom­modate a greater number of freshmen men, said senior Reuben Blake, Koon’s head res­ident assistant. Blake and his RA team are already forming a close-knit culture among the men, who affec­tion­ately refer to them­selves as “Dawgs.”

“My phone now auto­cor­rects ‘dogs’ to ‘D-A-W-G-S,’” Blake said.

Blake kicked off the year for his res­i­dents with a night of games and a sur­prise trip to Dutch Uncle in Cold­water for doughnuts.

“We didn’t tell them where we were going,” Blake said. “We were like, ‘Everybody jump in the car, we’re leaving, and we’ll be back in an hour.’”

The night was more than just a doughnut run — it con­tributed to the res­i­dents’ close-knit com­munity, Blake said. The next day, he woke up to a hor­rible cold and res­i­dents’ social media posts praising the dorm ‘s RAs for their efforts to welcome the freshmen.

“I had guys text me and come to me per­sonally and shake my hand and say, ‘Thank you for all the planning you put into this, because it really showed and we can tell that you as an RA team love us,’” Blake said.

Ung, a fre­quent visitor to the dorm, noted a strong sense of com­radery among the res­i­dents.

“Reuben was very focused on cre­ating a com­munity that was its own thing,” she said. “He had a lot of tra­di­tions in mind that he wanted to do with the guys.”

Blake is assisted by sophomore RAs Nick Uram and Luke Woltanski, as well as his roommate, senior Mark Har­rison. Though not an official RA, Har­rison plays a major role in leading the freshmen, orga­nizing a Bible study and “manly movie nights.”

The freshmen are con­tributing to the dorm’s culture, too: freshman Noel Schroeder coined the terms “Top Dawgs” and “Under Dawgs” for the respective halls, and Esposito brought a poker set to campus, assisting Blake in “mas­culin­izing” the dorm with board games and mock weaponry. Esposito said their newest addition was the foosball table a pair of Koon Dawgs picked up off the curb for free.

In the lobby, a drawing of a pipe-smoking pup, cap­tioned “Koon Dawgs,” replaced a picture of a “Think Spring” bunny on a white­board.

“We know that we want it to be a place that people enjoy and want to be proud of,” Har­rison said.

The speed of Koon’s growth as a com­munity impressed Woltanski, who lives down­stairs with the Under Dawgs.

“All the freshmen are really close, and with the sopho­mores, too,” he said. “Everyone melded together pretty well.”

For older stu­dents like Har­rison and Woltanski, living in Koon is quite a change from life in larger dorms like Simpson or Gal­loway. Unlike the recently ren­o­vated dorms, Koon has com­munity bath­rooms and no formal kitchen.

“We don’t really have a kitchen, and our lobby is very small,” Blake explained. “We have a sink and a microwave. And a toaster.”

The dorm’s halls aren’t closed off by doors, allowing res­i­dents to move more freely throughout the two floors, which Har­rison noted has assisted in building com­munity.

“We try to put together events, even if it’s just going out to eat to get together with each other,” Schroeder said. “We’re all looking out for each other.”