All week I’ve been talking about it, and today I finally had to go for it. I pulled my hair back, grabbed my phone and keys, and sent the following Tweet:
The 127 Hours reference refers to a previous trip to the closet to grab T-shirts to take to NACA. I got my arm caught between two heavy boxes, and took several minutes to dislodge myself from the mountain of mementos. Given that the cell phone signal in the closet is spotty, I mandated from that point forward that anyone going to the closet go with a buddy. But it is within my power to change the circumstances of that dingy and overcrowded space, and today I set out to do so.
I learned a lot of lessons in that just over two hours, I’ll share a few of those lessons so as not to be long-winded:

  • Students will leave just one of anything in a box. The size of the item or the box is of no consequence. If it comes to taking it out and leaving it to the side, or leaving the box in place, they’ll leave in the box, evidently, every SINGLE time.
  • We both have, and don’t have, a great reverence for tradition in our office. Club Downunder, our main programming space, has existed in some form on this campus for over twenty years, and we’ve had the opportunity to welcome some great acts to our space. As such, there has been a desire to save mementos from shows that we do. That said, what we do have, isn’t kept or displayed in the most efficient of fashions. I want to find a way to appropriately display the history that we have amassed, including things like signed posters and advertisements, but also some of the smaller things like informational brochures and staff T-shirts. Any ideas??
  • There really are trends in student activities. Some things like wax hands or popcorn and snow cones are timeless, but there are others that fit a pretty specific time frame. Namely, inflatables. Not talking about bouncehouses, but rather inflatable guitars/figures/couches. Especially couches. We have at least ten, and I have no idea what we’re going to do with them.
  • Leftovers are chances for new events! At one point I texted my supervisor with a picture of black T-shirts I found in the closet, and said “If anyone tries to tell you they need to order black T-shirts, tell them ‘absolutely not'” There were, without any form of exaggeration, over 300. But there are chances to use them, and I plan to make that a personal crusade. #oneword T-shirts for my retreat activity this fall, “T-Shirts and Tacos” as an event during our summer programming, T-shirt scarves for every female in the office, department, and feasibly even the Division…the ideas abound! Similarly, we are aiming to bring a country act to campus, and we can legitimately give a cowboy hat to the first 100 students who buy tickets. I’m fighting for that.
  • We are not doing a great job of teaching our students the value of a dollar. This was perhaps the biggest takeaway that I got from the experience. There are several aspects of our programming board that can make our jobs a little more difficult. One, we have a tremendous amount of pride in the independence our students have. Two, we are blessed to have a budget that well exceeds any I’ve ever worked with. And a combination of those two things has led to things like: ordering a new one of something if we can’t find it, ordering more of something because it’s easier than looking, and ordering things without encouraging students to make realistic estimates of how much we need.
    Things like 100 extra cowboy hats, 300 extra T-shirts and 4700 sno-kone cups don’t just happen…we let them happen. I want to be more proactive about stating “Just because we have the ability to, doesn’t mean it’s a good decision.” With a new organizational system for our storage, I’m hoping that location and usage process will be easier. With ease of a process comes less impetus to just thrown our hands up and replace things.
I’ve returned to the real world now, and have some ideas- what have you found in your closet? What have you learned about your organization in cleaning your storage spaces? What other foods start with T that we could pair with T-shirt decorating?

3 thoughts on “Cleaning Out My Closet

  1. MAN that's a lot of shirts! If you have forms for event proposals, you should add a line: "Did you look int the closet for supplies? What's the secret word?" (A word you put on a sticky & hide in there, changed monthly). It might help use up some of that stuff!

  2. T-Shirts and tiramisu?Regarding t-shirts (the printed ones, not the plain black ones) I noted recently that in my near-decade in student activities, I had amassed quite a collection of program-related t-shirts. The vast majority made their way to Goodwill, but not before I took pictures of all of them. I promise I'm going to do something with them, but I'm not sure what yet…For items that bear the logo of WinterFest '86 or other such outdated events,we occasionally clean out storage with a "CAB Yard Sale". The term sale is a misnomer, as they're all free, but we'll set up and give out some of our *ahem* "vintage" goods at these times. It's a win-win–students get free stuff, we get back some storage space.

  3. I saw a really neat display of tshirts in our APIA office. Basically the shirt was framed, but only the words part. So the frame was approximately the size of a record. I'll try to take a picture if I go back to campus any time soon.

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