Much ado about hunting

Students wary of Scav should reexamine assumptions about the annual tradition.

By Maroon Editorial Board

As the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, hundreds of students in Ida Noyes cheered as the list for the 2012 Scavenger Hunt was released. The document contains 351 elaborate items, and in the next three days Scavvies will scamper around campus checking off as many as they can. And, just like every other year, many students will shake their heads, sigh, and avoid all signs of Scav at any cost. It should be clear by now, however, that Scav is, by no means, a refuge for the weird and uncommon. In fact, it’s something every student should support.

This isn’t to say everyone should participate. There’s no doubt that Scav has a certain niche appeal, and not everyone can devote the weekend to zany projects and sleepless nights. Dr. Chris Straus (A.B. `88, M.D. `92), a former resident of Snitchcock and current Associate Professor of Radiology at the Medical School, founded Scav in 1987 and didn’t even expect it to last more than a couple of years. Now, in its 26th year, it is officially the world’s largest scavenger hunt and a nationally recognized tradition. But there are still a few assumptions about the hunt that mislead our student body.

One is that the items and event solely cater to the “that kids” and the antisocial nerds on campus. These comments often come from students who have never taken a look at the list, which includes such a diversity of options that literally anyone, with any interest, can find something worth doing. This includes the artistic, the athletic, and the informally interested—past and current items include running a sub–four-minute mile (2011), acquiring a Congressional Medal of Honor (2011), and making a Winnie the Pooh mosaic out of gummy bears (2012). It’s fair to say that most of the items are not completed by hardcore Scavvies, but by the more casual participants who wander into a dorm common room and pick up a project related to their interests.

Another misconception is that for all its organized chaos, Scav really doesn’t contribute much to the community beside intrusive obstacles on the quad and seemingly crazy people barging into class. But take, for example, today’s annual Scav Blood Drive. Over 200 students donated blood last year, and it serves as the single largest intake of blood by University hospitals for the entire year. Then there’s the fact that, for five days, students who have never previously spoken to each other build, paint, Photoshop, set things afire, and work together just to have a good time.

In short, it’s difficult to comprehend what exactly so many people find offensive and despicable about Scav. Intimidating? Perhaps. Strange? Granted. Like most other activities and RSOs (and yes, Scav is an RSO), it will appeal to some and alienate others. This being said, appreciate the fact that there is literally no other school in the world where you will see a breeder reactor on the main quadrangles, a Stradivarius violin brought onto campus, or a bartending piano. It might just be worth your while to follow B-J’s Scav mantra: “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”

The Editorial Board consists of the Editors-in-Chief and the Viewpoints Editors.