Whether you call it The Scavenger Hunt, Scav Hunt, Scav, Jar Jar Binks, or Solipsistic Bastards (all of these and many more are approved names according to the organization’s bylaws), one thing is certain—it’s hitting campus tomorrow. Shortly after midnight, team captains will run from Ida Noyes to their dorms holding the 2011 list full of items that have historically ranged anywhere from a book bound in human skin (2006) to a Stradivarius instrument (2010). It’s a campus tradition that captivates a huge fraction of the student body, propelling them to build, paint, destroy, inflame, and search for an endless variety of objects—despite the classes and midterms that are brushed aside. But at the same time, a fraction of students just as large avoids the jubilation and caffeine-fueled terror like the plague.
This polarizing aspect of Scav need not divide the student body. Admittedly, sacrificing hours of sleep and brainpower to conquer a dorm competition may not be as compelling to one undergraduate as to another. However, the structure of Scav allows for contributions from every member of the campus community: This is its single greatest strength. Team captains this year span a range from first-years to sorority sisters to graduate students to alums. There’s even a team aptly called the “Rural Jurors,” officially listed as representing the University of Wisconsin Law School. The tradition and history of Scav, along with its ability to motivate such a wide portion of students, make it a perfect opportunity to engage in and contribute to the larger community.
Take, for example, the Scav Hunt Blood Drive. Held until this Friday afternoon, the annual event is the single largest intake of blood by University Hospitals for the entire year. This year, Scav will also more than likely take the official name as the “World’s Largest Scavenger Hunt,” a title it has previously used through the ages but is currently held by 212 Canadian school children. The world record attempt, set to be staged on Friday at 6 p.m., invites both scavvies and non-scavvies alike to help bring the University increased recognition and the Scav tradition indisputable legitimacy. Initiatives like these perfectly combine the immense enthusiasm of scavvies with tangible, practical, real-world projects.
In other words, Scav does not have to be the domain of the uncommon student. It doesn’t even have to denote participating in the actual hunt. The more significant opportunity it provides is one of the few moments in the year when the student body can be wholly united. Students should by no means feel stigmatized or judged by participating; in fact, they should see the hunt and its various corollary projects and fundraisers as a unique and singular facet of their U of C experience. As a tradition celebrating its 25th year of existence, Scav should be embraced not for its quirky culture, but for its integral role in uniting the student body in 84 sleepless hours of practical and impractical challenges.
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