April 26, 2010

Not cool: the U of C tops HuffPo's Anti-Party list

APPENDED: Well, it seems the Top 10 list was presented in no particular order, and that a vote yielded Brigham Young the most anti-party school in the nation. My apologies to Huffington Post, who, despite the big stink I've made, hit the nail on the head with the U of C's inclusion on this list.

Sitting in the stuffy, windowless sub-basement of the Regenstein Library, this blog was shocked to see that the Huffington Post has named the University of Chicago the greatest/most prominent/lamest Anti-Party school of 2010, ahead of a school where students can't smoke on campus. And West Point.

Huffington Post's list suggests it should be considered an anti-Playboy's TOP 10 Party Schools, tallying "places where serious study and gentle fun reign," but that's not what the post suggests (cf this March 25 headline of HuffPo's: Graffiti By Nerds Celebrated And Catalogued In U Chicago Grad's Book). One commenter wrote, "great, my school is the first one!" Another: "Yes, I think if one is social and wants to interact with others he would feel quite out of place at the University of Chicago."

Needless to say, this blog was all like, "Nu-uh!" And it would have gone further, but for the scowls of the seven other sad souls studying down here. Because HuffPo has it totally—okay, sort of wrong. The U of C is really not an Anti-Party school. In fact, it embraces parties in all its party-forms, and we have many of the same party issues "party schools" do: Heaven and Hell (scroll down), trouble, and even questionable taste. Beyond that, U of C students make porn, or at least try to; get in 80's movie-style jock-hipster dust ups; tease stodgy discriminators; and more fun stuff that its "where fun goes to die" rep misses. Nobody's arguing that students here are "cool" or that they party nearly as hardy as, say, UTexas students, because they don't, for a variety of reasons (there's no equivalent to 6th street, for starters). What this blog is arguing is that the U of C is more like 8th or 9th on this list.

But don't take this blog's word for it, let's look at Huffington's post:

(Disclosure: the Maroon displays advertisements from the Huffington Post in exchange for some of our stories to be carried on its College page; on Facebook, our relationship would be, "It's complicated," lol: Facebook jokes.)

HuffPo has this to say about the University: "The brainy school's atmosphere, famously described as 'the place where fun goes to die,' is perhaps best summed up by the school cheer: 'Themistocles, Thucydides/The Peloponnesian War,/X squared, Y squared/H2SO4/Who for? What for?/What the hell are we fighting for?/Go, Maroons!'"

This quote was likely pulled from a 2005 article from the University's own newspaper, The Chicago Chronicle, about the Model UN team winning a prestigious tournament at Harvard. The article ended thusly: "After the award ceremony in Boston, the Chicago team, thrilled with its performance, concluded with its traditional cheer: 'Themistocles, Thucydides, the Peloponnesian War, X squared, Y squared, H2SO4,' they shouted. 'Who for? What for? Who we gonna yell for? GO MAROONS!'"

The thing is, next to no one at the U of C knows that cheer anymore (the exception being one XKCD forum poster earlier this month), and those who do only understand it as a relic from the school's past, the kind of quirk that, like the Uncommon Essay, helps attract students with a sense of irony. Gentle fun? Sure, but the fact is that very few people show up to sports games and that a few of those familiar to this blog do it drunk.

Moreover, the school itself is changing its focus. It has built a state-of-the-art athletics center and dormitories that look like hotels, dropped some of its Core requirements, and placed more and more emphasis on the undergraduate eduation. Students are now freer than ever to pursue their hobbies and interests, and what did they do with it? Well, they often partied, sometimes taking up whole buildings to do so. They Scavenged, and administrators had to shut the afterparty down.

The University of Chicago has changed in the last 15 or 20 years, and its reputation deserves a change, too. It should at least be more amenable to parties than Wheaton College, where, according to the Po, "In 2003, the Christian college in Illinois voided school policy that prohibited students from dancing. Students are also now allowed to smoke and drink, but only off-campus." The U of C beat out a school where they weren't allowed to dance seven years ago? Nu. Uh. No offense to any Wheatonians, but while they were under contract not to dance, Tucker Max was streaking through the D'Angelo Law Library—the very same library pictured in the Huffington Post's list. Students may hang out at the library a little too much for their own good, but they know how to let it all hang out, too.