Remember when you were a brand new freshman getting ready to move into your room? The door to your room was marked with your name, guided by a creative theme. After all of your things were settled in, your parents had left, you were acquainted with your new roommate (deciding on decorations and what events during the Orientation Week you wanted to attend),you were greeted by a cheery upperclassman—your D’Lion.
Whether or not you knew at the time what exactly a D’Lion was, you immediately felt welcomed by their cheery personality and spirit and were soon very comfortable with the transition into the next stage of your life.
Gates and Gannett 2 D’Lion sophomore Abdulwahab Alhaji recounted his experience of being a D’Lion this year. “I liked the spirit of the position, and I wanted to give back to the student body, especially freshmen,” Alhaji said when asked why he applied. “I [had] a very good transitional experience to this beautiful university.”
The D’Lions are primarily responsible for “promoting hall spirit and a comfortable living atmosphere on their halls,” according to their Campus Club Connections page.
The role of a D’Lion is to basically “be a social and a psychological advisor to students—mainly a friend,” according to Alhaji.
“We help freshmen transition into a college life by offering them social programs like parties, gatherings, food events and things like that, as well as in a individual level by physiologically advising them using the training we get by the University counseling center.”
The D’Lions are also an active organization on campus. “As an organization, D’Lions hosted several blood drives and food drives and participated in community service in Golisano’s Hospital, [as well as cosponsoring] several groups on campus, such as Ballet Performance Group,” Alhaji said.
“Every spring semester, we hold ‘D’Lions do DFo,’ where D’Lions decorate Danforth and propose recipes to DFo that are different from regular [recipes.] We [have] all the performance groups on campus perform as people are having dinner.”
Recounting his experience of applying last year, he notes that the application was “very formal and informal in its own ways.”
Since each floor has two D’Lions, students can apply together and request to be on the same floor, which is what Alhaji did. “I remember sitting in Gleason with my now partner Christina…[and thinking] about how our similarities would make a single application stronger, [and so] we applied together,” he says.
Alhaji notes that bonding with his hall has been great. “The differences in people at the hall brought [them] closer together due to a good start made by the ResLife in the freshmen hall.”
However, he also adds that he did face some difficulties during his time as a D’Lion, saying that “[he] had a very hard time dealing with issues that rose with my freshmen at the beginning of their first semester, such as culture shock, depression [and] suicidal thoughts. The training that D’Lions received was very structured in an actor-perceiver way; however, the real experience and watching real people go thought this was very challenging for me.”
For Alhaji the best part of being a D’lion is “being actively involved both in my class and the freshmen class, so I get double the people I know. I am not just interacting with my hall but [with] their friends and the freshmen class in general,” he says. He also says he enjoys the diversity of the people that he gets to interact with due to his position, saying that “meeting people from different backgrounds is always more interesting.”
Of Alhaji, freshman Karthik Ramesh says that “Abdul is a great D’Lion and I’m grateful that he was my D’Lion this year because he has been a great source of information and support during my transition. He’s also just a fun and charismatic guys that makes any situation very interesting.” Freshman Thomas Pinella adds that “he has a very entertaining and out-of-the-ordinary life that is fun to hear about and is very energetic and stands out, in a good way.”
To future D’Lions, Alhaji says to “do the job because you want to do it, and not because you want housing guaranteed or [have] other ulterior motives, [and] do it with all your spirit because at the beginning of the year, freshmen perceive D’Lions [as] more approachable people than the RAs.”
Kanakam is a member of the class of 2017.
Poddar is a member of the class of 2018.