College is weird. Sometimes in a unique way that could never happen anywhere else in the world, as in the US and Europe college is sort of an extension of adolescence and softer transition into adulthood for many, where you have fewer responsibilities but more freedoms. It’s someplace to test the waters, challenge yourself and have your ideas challenged. That atmosphere allows for opportunities that one may never get again in life. Sometimes people lose a little bit of perspective on life outside of that bubble. Then things get weird. Here are 25 Ways To Prove That College Is A Strange Place.
Students at University of Maryland and several other universities had tests postponed and cancelled because Trump won the US election. However you feel about the 2016 US presidential election results, millions upon millions of working class Americans got up on Tuesday, November 9th, and went to work. As you do.
James W Dooley is a skeleton and the unofficial mascot of Emory University. His first appearance was in 1899 in the form of letters written to the Emory Phoenix (student publication) from his home in the science lab. Dooley shows up on campus several times a year (a student dressed as a skeleton) in a top hat and gloves to preside over campus. Random walking skeleton in top had shows up, everyone is excited and shows him fealty, and it's not Halloween. Okay.
Every year around when the spring semester starts, students at NC State University take part in a magical tradition called the Krisp Kreme Challange, which consists of a 5 mile race to and from the local Krispy Kreme store, and each participant eats a dozen doughnuts in an hour or less. And they do it in costume.
There was a riot - a legitimate RIOT with over 20 student arrests and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, fires, and five people treated at a hospital - in March of 2010 at the University Of Maryland College Park after the University's basketball team won a game. Their team won, and they rioted. Riots also happened after basketball wins in 2002, and a smaller but still damaging celebration after the 2006 women's basketball team defeated Duke.
Vassar College has a tradition called "Serenading" wherein freshmen sing insults as seniors walk door to door and are pelted with water balloons filled with condiments. While going door to door and singing isn't that weird in a historical context, and neither is throwing food, planning to throw condiments at people while singing mean songs on a specific date raises...so many questions. Like who cleans it up?
Regularly, people in college go to the home of someone they don't know, to a raucous gathering made up of mostly people they don't know, and play with substances or alcohol they have little to no experience with or push their limits. While it's undoubtedly a good time, taking a step back, that's kind of bizarre, a big leap of faith, and perhaps, just perhaps, a bunch of barely beyond adolescents experimenting with weird substances with strangers is not the best idea. We're not judging, but there are questions.
Students at Georgetown University gather every Halloween in the cemetery and howl at the moon in a ritual/tradition known as the Healy Howl. It has something to do with The Exorcist being filmed around there many years ago, but it's not...clear. Were there Lycanthropes in the Exorcist?
Full Moon On The Quad may sound like an arcane ritual, or really neat concert event, but it's actually a school sponsored Freshman makeout session at Stanford University. Yeah, that Stanford. That's a thing. Normally, it's held under the first Full Moon in October, but this year, Stanford is holding it during the winter quarter and trying to make it more about school spirit and..consent.
The Campus of Sewanee: The University of the South, is huge. And so beautiful it's supposedly the home of Angels. Yep. Students can even take one with them by tapping the roof of their car to pick up one on their way out, and tapping again upon their return to release it. Apparently their angels are well trained.
Emma Sulkowicz graduated from Colombia University in 2015. Before that, she made what turned out to be fake rape accusations against a fellow student, ruined his reputation, and turned her accusations into an art project where she carried around her mattress on campus. To recap: made up a story, carried around a mattress, got school credit and national attention, ruined a young man's life, hailed as a hero even after everyone knows it was a lie. Yep, that counts as bizarre.
To help cope with the stress of finals in the 1970's, Tufts University students started running naked across the quad in winter. Originally known as the "West Hall Naked Quad Run," the event faded into obscurity for a bit but was revived in the 1990's by West Hall residents. Dorm residents would "warm themselves" with alcohol, gather in the basement of West Hall, strip, and then go for a run. In December. In 2011, the event was suspended due to concerns about alcohol consumption and uh...groping. You don't say..
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Affirmative Action bake sales / gender equality bake sales are a thing. This is a type of protest used to illustrate whatever you're for or against. In affirmative action bake sales, Whites and Asian students are charged more for a cupcake, Black and Latino students less, in a pay gap bake sale, men are charged a dollar and women are charged $0.77 (despite the pay gap being disproven over and over again). Generally, these "bake sales" cause outrage and cries of racism and sexism, which is the point. Nothing says "equality" like charging someone more for their gender or race.
Dorms segregated by race (in 2016). California State University LA (CSULA) has offered separate dorms for black students; white students aren't allowed. Supposedly this is acceptable because Black students want a "safe space" from white students; however, when this was done in reverse less than a century ago, it was called racism. CSULA gets around the pesky legality of actually fully segregated housing by saying that any student is open to apply, and the dorm in question is for students who wish to focus on African American/Black American issues and studies. The argument is segregation vs. sanctuary, and Cal State LA isn't the only school to have such dorms. Because going to college to expand your horizons and grow means only having to live around people who are culturally like yourself and constantly validate your opinions. *note sarcasm*
In 1990, 100 Ohio State students jumped in freezing Mirror Lake to celebrate their football team's victory over their rivals, Michigan. The tradition continues, and now thousands of students participate in the Mirror Lake Jump in the week leading up the rival football game. Because what's college without a little traditional risk of hypothermia? Because football?
The U.S Naval Academy has a tradition that started in 1959 called, "plebes-no-more" ceremony, where "Plebs" (first year students) climb the greased Herndon Monument located on Academy grounds and place a hat on top. The monument stands in honor of Commander William Lewis Herndon who went down with his ship in September of 1857.
Florida State University has a Sod Cemetery. As in, a cemetery for dead patches of grass with little coffins and grave markers and everything. Yep. In the early 1960's, a professor dared the football team to bring back sod from Sanford Statum's football field. They did, because that's what you do in college, and now the tradition continues, with FSU taking turf from the fields of University of Florida, teams they face in bowl games, and teams they are expected to lose against.
Santa Clara University actually told students to call 911 if they were offended by something. They referred to these as "Bias incidents" and lumped them in with actual threats and harassment. They have since rescinded this policy and taken the wording off the webpage, but this is the internet, and these things live on. The instructions went as follows, "If the bias incident is in progress or just occurred: ALWAYS CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY." While this makes sense for actual, you know, threats of bodily harm, the definition of bias incident also includes speech that targets a specific person for a specific reason. So if someone calls you a fat poopy butt head, and you think it's because you're X, call 911. Way to raise up the strong and capable leaders of tomorrow, guys.
At some point in 2014, this happened at a US college. The image just kind of popped up on the internet, but anyone who's been to college in the US can pretty well understand that things like dudes randomly playing poker in the elevator aren't that weird, really.
Secret Societies are a thing. Most famous (and not really secret anymore) is the Skull and Bones Society at Yale. Famous members include Former President Taft to Former president(s) Bush. There are all kinds of crazy rumors attached to Skull and Bones, such as a Bush grandfather robbing graves in 1918. What we do know is that a lot of powerful people have come through this club, stated that they can't talk about it, and it's definitely up there in creepy factor.
Bizarre Majors. We don't mean obscure; we mean, do you need a several year degree costing tens of thousands of dollars in this subject? For example, you could get a degree in Pop Culture (Bowling Green State University). I can quote most of Buffy and Futurama, can I CLEP out of some classes? There's also Fermentation Sciences (beer, wine, fermented foods, etc) from Appalachian State University, Decision-making (Indiana University), Turfgrass Science (maintaining sports fields - Penn State University) or The Beatles (Liverpool Hope University). Yes, those Beatles. You can get a Master's degree about a pop music band.
Depending on how large the university is, there may be a separate office of the local police JUST for that college. Meaning if you call the cops, you're going to get...college cops. But wait, there's more! In 2011, the US Education Department's Office for Civil Rights wrote a letter confirming that colleges should use a lower standard of evidence than criminal courts when trying sexual assault complaints. So in the real world, if you're accused of rape, there's due process, and you must be proven guilty with things like, you know, evidence. If you're in college, there's admittedly a lower standard of evidence, and there's...college process. Which can vary, widely. Officials have even admitted that the reason there are separate college courts is because many cases wouldn't be taken by a prosecutor due to lack of evidence and burden of proof. There are also college parking citations and people (usually students) who can walk around and hand out citations for things like not wearing school colors on school spirit day (again, depending on campus). It's still unclear how having fake court with a lowered burden of proof, separate police, and nonsense citations for people who are legally adults is beneficial to the students or society as a whole. Many argue that it isn't. When you take a step back, it's really a lapse in protection for both accused and victims, and also...weird.
"Don't Tase Me Bro!" Became a phrase that will live in infamy on September 17th, 2007, when campus police tased a student at University of Florida after he uttered these words. 21-year-old undergraduate student Andrew Meyer asked a question of Senator John Kerry, who was a guest speaker, after the question period ended (though with permission to do so), when he was forcibly pulled away from the microphone. He was forcibly restrained and yelled, "Don't Tase Me Bro!" when an officer did, in fact, tase him. Meyer trademarked the phrase later that month due to it's widespread use and appearance on tee shirts.
The Friday before Spring Break at Cornell University is Dragon Day. Freshman architecture students build a giant dragon and parade it around campus. In the 80's, the engineering students (there's a bit of a rivalry there) founded the Phoenix Society and made a knight to ride out and meet the Dragon. So there's a Dragon and a Knight (or Phoenix, or Viking, or..something). It doesn't end there; the Physics Department makes a Unicorn because why not? It should be noted that the Physics and Engineering departments participation is uh..sporadic.
Organic Chemistry isn't fun. Organic Chemistry finals aren't fun for anyone, particularly for those who are studying. The Columbia University Matching Band has decided to add a little levity to the drudgery that is studying for Organic Chem by playing in the reading room at Butler Library in an annual event know as Orgo Night, to distract students from studying. There are also jokes and all sorts of tom-foolery. No one is quite sure when Orgo Night started, but some believe it started as a random prank in the 60's.
While no one is denying that it's important to have a comfortable place to decompress and tune out the world after a stressful day, for most of the world, this is inside their home or bar. Not so at our esteemed US universities, which have offered things such as a "cry-in" where a campus thoroughfare is set aside as a "safe space" for students to cry while faculty handed out hot cocoa (University of Michigan), and "safe spaces" with therapy dogs and play dough when a speaker with opinions students don't like comes to campus (Oberlin College). Publicly funded universities have done this with university monies, from taxpayers. Once upon a time, college was a place where you went to have your ideas challenged and to grow as a person. Now they're for hot cocoa and play dough. As Time put it, "There should be no safe spaces from intellectual thought."
Want to learn more about colleges? Take a look at 25 Extremely Strange And Bizarre College Courses.
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