While walking through the student neighborhood this weekend, do not be alarmed by the bedroom linens hanging from students’ beloved porches.
It is a long-standing tradition for students at the University of Dayton to hang sheets in front of their houses for different occasions throughout the school year. The most popular occasions for sheet hanging are move-in weekend, parents weekend and birthday celebrations. Although exactly when the tradition began is unknown, digital.udayton.edu shows pictures of sheets hanging dating back to 1980.
Drew Arensberg, a fifth-year engineering student, has hung one sheet this year and is looking forward to hanging another sheet for parents weekend. Arensberg’s house has not yet decided what their sheet will say this weekend, but their move-in weekend sheet read “Welcome to the Alamo, our last stand is your first shot.”
“Our house loves the sheet hanging tradition,” Arensberg said. “It is the best way to emphasize community and really welcome new students to the neighborhood.”
Meredith Bolmeyer, a junior marketing and leadership major, is also a veteran in hanging sheets. Bolmeyer’s favorite Ghetto sheet read “If she doesn’t know what Lotus Notes is, she’s too young for you bro.”
Bolmeyer’s house, nicknamed “The Brothel,” intends to hang a sign for parents weekend reading, “Don’t worry mom and dad, we’re not really a brothel! We love you!”
“I love the sheet hanging at UD,” Bolmeyer said. “I think it makes the Ghetto seem like a fun community. It gives the houses a personality and some of them are really funny. It’s a great tradition.”
Senior education major Kerry Martens agrees that the sheet hanging tradition shows UD’s sense of community.
“It’s a creative and cheap way to get information out there,” Martens said. “Whether it’s about Greek Week, a retreat or a concert going on. And, you always know when it’s someone’s birthday or where the party is at that weekend.”
Martens’ house, 339 Kiefaber St., has made many sheets since she moved in this summer.
“My favorite is the one we made for move-in weekend at the beginning of the year,” Martens said. “I’m not going to repeat exactly what it said, but it rhymed and went along the lines of parents dropping their freshman sons off on our front porch.”
In some instances, especially move-in weekend, Fellows and other UD officials have had to tell students to take inappropriate sheets down.
“They need to stop taking sheets down,” Arensberg said. “This is America.”
Martens’ house has never been asked to take a sheet down, but they have been asked to change the words in one.
“They are all in good fun and make that first weekend back that much better,” Martens said.
Freshman psychology major Brie Sandridge and her parents enjoyed most of the sheets hung on move-in weekend.
“Most [sheets] were clever and I enjoyed the creativity from UD students,” Sandridge said. “My parents pretty much felt the same, except for the one sign that said ‘Thank you for your daughters.’ That one alarmed my dad.”
Rob Mullen, father to a UD senior student and president of Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky., contacted university president Dan Curran after seeing sheets he deemed inappropriate while moving his daughter in three years ago.
“As a fellow school administrator, I wanted Dr. Curran to know that, while I appreciated the university’s messages about college life and expected behavior, some sheet messages awaiting parents as they brought their frosh to campus for move-in weekend gave a different message,” Mullen said. “I felt obligated to let him know about these mixed messages.”
Mullen says that if students live in UD-owned housing, it makes sense that they do not send messages that conflict with UD values.
“Keep the tradition alive and vibrant but as with all things, use common sense and moderation,” Mullen said..