Red River College Students’ Association transforms the empty Mercantile into a haunted house

By: Jura McIlraith

Screams echo through the atrium at Red River College Polytechnic Exchange District Campus (EDC) on Oct. 31, 2022. Awaiting a thrilling experience, students huddle outside the old Mercantile — a former campus store.

The Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA) transformed the empty space into a haunted house, called Texas Chainsaw Mercantile, as part of Halloween Week.  Roughly 250 students attended the four day event.

Many students believe events like this boost morale.

“You go to school for education and that’s obviously the online portion of it, but there’s also the sociability aspect of it,” said Mackenzie Arnott, 28, second-year Business Administration student.

Patiently waiting to walk through the haunted house, Arnott said he is excited to attend in-person events especially after studying online last year.

For many students, it’s their first time back learning in-person. These activities make their time at RRC Polytech more memorable, Arnott said. 

“I’ve been online for so long that you miss out on all these interpersonal interactions,” Arnott said. “Being a second-year student on campus is a big deal, so just walking through the Commons and just seeing participation in these little events that people set up is just part of the whole school experience.”

Minjae Lee, Maninder Singh, Jose Manuel, and Komal Kaur escape the Texas Chainsaw Mercantile unscathed on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. The students’ association hosted the haunted house as part of the RRCSA’s annual Halloween Week celebrations. (Jura McIlraith)

For others starting at RRC Polytech for the first time, these events are exciting for different reasons.

“Having Halloween spirit I think is very fun, and I admire how they’re holding things for us to enjoy, and how it’s free and how there was candy at the end,” said Leah Kotchon, 19, first-year Digital Film and Media Production student.

Kotchon said she took advantage of the haunted house and made multiple visits. And although it was not necessarily scary for all, the five-minute walk through was still impressive thanks to the props.

The students’ association is hoping to organize more activities in the future for students to attend at the Exchange District Campus, said student life manager, Denize Esiyo.

“We haven’t had much events here at EDC, and I got hired specifically for that, to plan events at EDC,” Esiyo said. “I’ve heard about the lack of events that they had here as opposed to Notre Dame, so I thought a haunted house would be a great idea.”

The empty store-front proved to be the perfect place to host events.

“After today…We’re hoping to use the space for more events for the students,” Esiyo said.

Halloween Week started on Oct. 25. Additional events included a temporary tattoo booth, a Prairie Exotics animal display table, and a Halloween movie marathon.