NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Maple Hall Murder Mystery: Whodunnit? 


It was just another Friday night for most, but there was a special group of people invited to what would be a very eventful 1920s wedding — one involving love and, of course, murder. Lauren Order is scheduled to marry the son of Don Dunn Sr., but they find that someone from the wedding party has been killed off. Now, the question of whodunit remained for NJIT students to figure out.  

The Forensic Science Student Association and National Residence Hall Honorary Highlander Chapter organized a mystery event in the Campus Center Atrium on Sept. 23. The night featured professional actors from The Murder Mystery Company in New Jersey working with student actors who were chosen randomly by the professional actors based on costuming, conversing, and spontaneous whimsy, according to Mira Sapozhnikov, third-year forensic science major and president of the association.  

“As the professional actors set up the props they had prepared, they walked around from table to table and introduced themselves while trying to break the ice. They did this while in character to decide on one person who stood out from each table to play a role in the event for the evening,” Fayrouz Raouad, fourth-year forensic science major and head of public relations and social chair for the association, said.  

“The company had prepared character role binders for all student actors that were used for clues, hints, and juicy drama that helped progress the development of the storyline,” Sapozhnikov explained. “The information could be asked or ‘bribed’ out of characters during questioning periods and held important facts and pieces of information about the characters, their dynamics, etc. to push events further along or complicate the mystery.” 

Third-year biomedical engineering graduate student Sebastian Fine, president of the Honorary Highlander Chapter, played the rival don Ivan Stone. “The role was engaging and fun to participate in! I cherished listening to the speculations of who the killer was and the justifications behind the accusations,” he said. “You never knew who could have done it!” 

“Even though I personally was not a part of the show, it sure felt like I was cheering [my student actor friends] on!” Sapozhnikov said. “I thought the actors’ encouragement of active audience participation really made the story come alive and also made it more fun for everyone involved.”  

Attendees were highly encouraged to dress in 1920s mobster fashion to spice up the experience. “I figured it would be a fun event to go to with friends, who were kind enough to invite me; plus, it was an excuse to get dressed up, which is always fun,” Edward Hyland, third-year civil engineering major and student actor, said. He also received the Best Acting Award of the night.  

“The most memorable parts of the night were the introduction to each character. Even before the night started, the actors were in character and introduced themselves as such,” Colton Hernandez, first-year forensic science major and student actor, said. “The fact that the other characters that fellow students and I played immediately went into character, even though we just got who we will be playing minutes prior, was also noteworthy.” 

At one point in the story, when there was a group of suitors, each one was required to show their best way of saying, “How ya doing?” so that Order can choose the best greeter to be her husband. Faith Adams, first-year biomedical engineering major and student actor, found this to be one of her favorite parts.  

Sapozhnikov added, “My friend group definitely had a blast recording my friend embarrassing himself with a little runway strut and a classic ‘How ya doin’?’ or recording Eddy [Hyland]’s classic New York gangster accent talking about the IRS.”  

“I already love the sound of my own voice and will take any opportunity to fill a silent room with whatever thoughts pop into my head, so being not only allowed, but encouraged to talk to people in a silly ‘20s gangster voice for an entire night was a very gratifying experience,” Hyland said.  

“I especially loved the unveiling of the supposed child, Polly Pocket, who turned out to be a spy,” Stephany Aristizabal, fourth-year forensic science major and the association’s secretary, said.  

Hernandez, the Polly Pocket actor, said, “What surprised me was when my character wasn’t a little girl like the story originally presented; she was an assassin sent to kill another character.” Pocket’s real name was revealed to be Luna Sea. “Many other characters had secrets, which made the story interesting when we got further into the night. It also made it more confusing and fun to decode all the clues,” they added.  

“We had so much fun when we got the winner of the ‘Had No Clue’ Award. But in the end, almost everyone had no clue as only two tables had the correct culprit,” Adams mentioned. “I met so many new people at this event! It was cool seeing everyone that I already knew thinking outside the box and really going into their roles as suspects in the murder. Each table was also super competitive, so it was fun to interact with everyone — almost like a game of Clue.” 

Maple Hall, NJIT’s newest residence hall, is the home of the Forensic Science Living Learning Community, motivating the organizers to keep its name as part of the event title. Ayushi Shah, fourth-year architecture major and the Honorary Highlander Chapter’s secretary, said, “When we initially started planning the solo-NRHH event, we were going to do it in Maple Hall to have it cater towards the learning community. However, later we decided to do it somewhere more accessible for all students,” not just residents.  

During the planning stage, “the hardest part was having all organizations that collaborated be on the same page at the same time,” according to Albert Joseph, third-year mechanical engineering major and vice president of the Honorary Highlander Chapter, along with many other Eboard members of both organizations.  

For the Forensic Science Student Association in particular, there were issues with making payments and submitting contracts and invoices. Sapozhnikov mentioned, “We ultimately covered the murder mystery portion of the event and paid back Residence Life with contributions generously provided by the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science and the College of Science and Liberal Arts, to whom we as an organization have been endlessly grateful for the support and development of the forensic science program.” 

“[The Honorary Highlander Chapter’s] programming model took an approach towards two questions: 1) How can we provide back to our community? and 2) How can we have the residents engage with our organization?” Fine said. “While lesser in frequency, I believe the amplitude of the program, which was set by each cooperative member’s vision, showcases an aspect of what NJIT’s residential experience provides.” 

Another program like this one is likely to be in the works for the future – be sure to keep an eye out and put your detective hats on! 

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