On the unsuspecting, sunny afternoon of Oct. 16, a group of students from Arnett’s fifth floor trekked toward Fifth West Ashton with one goal in mind: payback.
A few days before the excursion, a symbolic lion statue had mysteriously disappeared from its place in Arnett’s fifth floor kitchen. The floor’s theme focuses on lions, so this loss was especially significant.
“It’s…symbolic to our floor, it kind of represents who we are,” says Becca Houk, a freshman and participant in the raid. “We place it there to remind us that we are the lions.”
The ladies of Fifth Arnett were not going to take this offense without fighting back.
“I’m a pretty competitive person,” says freshman and fellow raider Jessica Silva. “When we saw our lion gone, we deserved [to have] it back—that is our pride.”
Houk agreed, stating that it was a necessary reaction.
“We didn’t want to get involved, we didn’t want to start a fight, but they started it by taking our lion,” Houk says. “It was in the middle of the day, no one was around, and we wanted to get revenge.”
According to the women of Fifth Arnett, rumors had begun to circulate around the missing lion statue, pinpointing the boys of Ashton as the likely culprits. Brinlee Finzel, resident of Fifth Arnett and a past resident of Ashton, was the first to suggest a mission to recover the lion.
At around 2 p.m., a group of students from Fifth Arnett assembled to search for the statue.
“We started on the fifth floor, looking for any suspicious behavior,” Houk says. “We didn’t know who did it at first. We had to figure it out.”
Sophomore Katie Carlson explained they even talked to residents on Ashton’s fifth floor in an attempt to dig up information.
“We were asking around, going into random people’s rooms,” Carlson says. “Asking, ‘Oh, has anything new been added to the floor?’”
With no sign of the lion on Fifth Ashton, the girls began a search of the other mens’ floor—specifically Sixth West, home of the Orangemen. Almost immediately, they discovered the abducted lion.
“We just saw it sitting in the main entrance,” Carlson says.
Alongside the lion stood a wooden sign adorned with the words “Welcome to the West Coast,” an object Silva noticed quickly.
“The first thing I saw, after I saw the lion, was this wooden plaque thing, and I was just like ‘let’s just take that,’” Silva says. “It was just right there, and it was not too small or too big and I could carry it.”
As they began to descend the stairwell, recovering their lion and carrying away the wooden sign, Carlson was struck with an idea to steal the Orangemens’ flag as well. The women say they knew the flag is one of the most prominent symbols of the Orangemen and would be a worthy prize.
“I went back into the hallway all alone,” Carlson says. “I was kind of nervous. When I went into the hallway, there was a boy standing there, so I just stood there until he went back into his room.”
Having evaded the boy in the hallway, Carlson began to take the flag down.
“I tried to be really quiet while I was taking the flag off,” Carlson says.
However, she was soon met with a second obstacle: more residents of the hall had begun to enter the hallway and she couldn’t get the flag down fast enough.
“So I just tore it down,” Carlson says. “I could hear boys talking in the halls so I just shoved it into my jacket and ran down the stairs.”
With the flag in hand, the women escaped Sixth West Ashton victorious and undiscovered.
“As a clan, we just walked all the way down the mountain,” Silva says. “People gave us some weird looks and we tried to act as normal as possible in that situation.”
The flag was hung a week later on an inside window facing Ashton, where the ladies hoped the victims of their raid would be able to see it on their daily hike down from their dorm.
The ladies of Fifth Arnett are proud of the results of their mission and the fact they have become part of the new hall’s history.
“I think it’s pretty awesome that we get to set our own traditions and set the ground for everyone else,” Silva says.
The residents of Sixth West Ashton did not retaliate until about a week ago, when freshmen Logan Bryan and John Bunch discovered that the students of Fifth Arnett had their flag. The two infiltrated Arnett and decided to look around on the third floor, the only mens’ floor in the resident hall.
“We kind of snuck around. The guys were giving us weird looks,” Bryan says.
At first, the two tried to think of a plausible reason to give if questioned why they were in Arnett, but Bryan and Bunch say the residents of Third Arnett wanted to help.
“We asked the guys there on Third and they said, ‘oh yeah, it’s up on Fifth,” Bryan says. “They helped us up to Fifth. We just snuck around the corner [and] grabbed the flag, I don’t think anybody saw us take it.”
Although Bryan and Bunch retrieved the flag, Fifth Arnett still has Sixth West’s wooden West Coast sign.
“It’s like, ‘don’t mess with us, we’re the den,’ you feel?” Silva says. “We want people to respect us. They better not come back for us.”
But Sixth West Ashton isn’t finished. They’re fully aware that their “West Coast” sign needs to be retrieved.
“We need to get that back at some point,” Bryan says. “We’ll be making plans for that pretty soon.”