October 23, 2002


MY OLD SCHOOL: For the second or third week in a row, something published in my old college newspaper, The Justice, has led some friends of mine and I to closely examine what exactly our college experience meant to us, and just how far removed it was from the Real World (the place, as well as the TV show. No Brynns or Trishelles at my old school). College, we all pretty much agree, is supposed to be different from the rest of your life in a good way- that is, it's supposed to be the absolute peak of your lifetime in terms of having fun, getting drunk, and getting laid. Just like with the academic side of things, the idea is to gain as much experience with those things during university life (when consequences are limited) so that you know what to do once you reach the real, post-collegiate world. As the wise old sage Chef once said on "South Park," "there's a time and a place for everything, and it's called 'college.'" Granted, some people aren't interested in having fun, getting drunk, or getting laid, and while they're certainly entitled to those views, I've long wished they'd stay out of the business of those who do.
Two such people, Brandeis juniors Tamara Shore and Amy McCarthy, wrote to the Justice this week complaining about a series of events that they feel has indicated an epidemic of "indecency" at Brandeis (yes, you read that right), from the display of a giant condom in a cafeteria, to the annual "Screw Your Roommate" and "The Less You Wear, the Less You Pay" dances, to a new entry called the "Pimps and Ho's Dance" to a recent "masturbation workshop." These are things that greatly embarrass and offend Ms. Shore and Ms. McCarthy (ooh, what an ironic last name!), because apparently, they indicate that people are having too good a time and they're just jealous. I don't want to know what the authors would've done had they gone to a real party school, the kind of place where the weekend starts on Wednesday and drunken orgies happen more or less spontaneously.
We wanted "Animal House," but we got "PCU." In my four years at Brandeis one thing I took note of all along was that it seemed the forces (whether students or administration) were aligned at all times against people having fun- whether it was the lack of an organized Greek system or the lack of a football team, the never-absent political correctness and "social justice" police, the uptight religious people of all denominations, and (more than anything else) the altogether laughable rule that students had to "register" if they wanted to have a party that served alcohol. As though the administration didn't already do enough to discourage fun, they were so fearful of being sued that the Brandeis Nanny State had to swoop in and prevent people from creating fun of their own.
The "Screw Your Roommate" dance was always the social event of the year, yet every year drew rabid complaints (for various reasons) from militant feminists, militant gays, and militant people who couldn't get dates, always with the implicit addendum that "if I'm not having a good time, you don't get to either!" The first "Less You Wear, Less You Pay" dance took place my junior year and (you guessed it) drew myriad complaints from the usual suspects, including fat people who felt discriminated against. The most successful fundraiser of my four years, a bachelor auction my senior year that raised a large sum of money for breast cancer research, was also marred by the crying-all-the-time brigade. And perhaps worst of all, just last year a politically incorrect skit on a campus radio show called "The Men's Room" made fun of Asians and people were still upset about it six months later- even though those were the same six months that immediately followed 9/11. (When I first heard that the biggest uproar of the Brandeis year was over something called "The Men's Room Incident," I just assumed that someone had been raped and/or beaten in a men's room, not that a few guys had made some ill-advised ethnic jokes on WBRS.)
So, as we learn from Shore and McCarthy's letter, there was a "masturbation workshop" earlier this year? GOOD! If these legions of uptight people can somehow relax by finally releasing some of their long-simmering sexual tension, that can only be a good thing for all parties involved. Though of course, I'm sure people were "offended" by the existence of that too. The authors of the letter conclude by stating that "there's really nothing that can justify a 'Less You Wear, Less You Pay' dance." Yes there is actually- people enjoy it! That's all the justification they need for it to exist- and if you don't feel like going, you can just stay home and do your own dance of self-loathing. I'm sure you won't be the only one.
Don't get me wrong; I loved my college experience, the education I got, and the friends I made, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. But since then I've noticed that just about everyone I've met had a more consistently fun time in college than I did. This is especially evident living in Hoboken, when I'm around people all the time who are used to rock 'n' rolling all night and partying every day, and clearly have been since their freshman years at Rutgers, Ithaca, or wherever. The joke, after all, is that Hoboken is like a college where the fraternities are Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc. When they had their keg parties in college, I think it's safe to say no one complained about the beer or scantilly clad women. Certainly no one does now. And to this day, as big a sports fan as I am, I can't ever watch college football on television because all I notice is that students at colleges across the country are enjoying a saturday of getting up early to drink, tailgating, spending three hours at the game, and then partying all night, none of which I ever experienced because my alma mater's leadership woke up one day in 1957 and decided it was "socially unjust" to continue to field a football team.
The ultimate folly of the now-thankfully-undermined political correctness movement is that, as the movie "PCU" pointed out brilliantly, it sucks the fun out of the college, and tries to impose guilt on people who, almost universally, have done nothing wrong. And just like in "PCU," we even had a concert by George Clinton (in November of 1999) that for one night only made everyone forget about their petty bullshit and united the entire university in the spirit of having a good time. The night didn't last long, but hey, at least it proved it was possible- the only question is, will it ever happen again?

Posted by Stephen Silver at October 23, 2002 04:47 PM
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