by Stephanie Graham '10
"We dress up in crazy outfits that we come up with and go around singing songs. It’s just crazy and a lot of fun."
Nikitia Maul '10 is smiling as she remembers the traditions that she participated in during the three years that she has spent on Otaku Hall, a specialty campus residence that brings lovers of science fiction, fantasy, Japanese animation, and Japanese comics (called manga) together. She and Otaku President Hillary Varner '10 applied to join the Otaku Hall when they were freshmen. Now, this February, they are ready to take part in their fourth Viking Day.
"Basically, it started with a bunch of students that got very bored on Valentine’s Day weekend six or seven years ago," says Varner. "So they dressed up as Vikings and pillaged their friends’ rooms. When their friends got back, they thought it was a great idea and decided to pillage for a cause the next year."
By "pillage," Varner means that Otaku Hall residents and other volunteers go door-to-door in office buildings and dormitories collecting items such as non-perishable food, gently-used clothing, hygiene products, and monetary donations. After their pillaging is done, they sort the items and deliver them to Roanoke’s Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) to support its Women’s Resource Center, which provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and their children.
"We selected TAP [Women’s Resource Center] because it applies to everyone on campus,” Varner continues. “Spousal abuse is a terrible thing and needs to be dealt with."
Viking Day has certainly reached out to TAP. Last year, Hollins raised over $4,500 in clothing, food, and monetary donations. However, Varner wants the conquest to grow even bigger: "I would like more of campus to participate as Vikings because it would make a great Hollins tradition in the future, similar to Ring Night."
How do you become a Viking? "We encourage costume-wearing, but you don’t have to," Varner explains. "Your costume has to have horns and a theme. You could be a Space Viking and have two antennae, or a Cute Viking with two bows or pigtails. We aren’t very picky."