Notes from the underground

By Ruth Davenport

It strikes me that, as a whole, the U of C is far too open.

Yes. Too open, too above board, too smiley-shiny-rosy-easy. This campus would benefit from a little subterfuge.

Am I crazy? Not on this point. Universities that are more established than ours enjoy rich histories of bizarre rituals, groups and practices that make the campus experience more interesting. The one thing the best of these traditions share is that they are illicit.

Secret societies have the most fun. Everyone wants a piece, everyone strives to get in. Secret societies offer support, identity and purpose to an otherwise apathetic student contentedly shuttling to and fro for four years. Since U of C has plenty of those, it seems odd that we have no underground organizations lurking in the shadows eagerly awaiting new members. This campus offers no challenge to its student body, nothing to be proud of or to call its own. The Den was almost there, but now lies a sad ruin under the tire tread of "progress."

Perhaps new U of C President Harvey Weingarten will outlaw a few existing groups. How much better would university life be if the Students’ Union became the Secret Society of the Students’ Union? With a way trendier acronym and liberation from red tape, members could employ the highly effective tools of persuasion and manipulation rather than those of bureaucracy and political gobbledegook. Imagine how quickly tuition would fall if shadowy, cloaked members paid a midnight visit to Lyle Oberg bearing hair clippers. Imagine how quickly membership would swell once the student body started catching glimpses of trendy navy blue cloaks embossed with SSOTSU. Cloaks are darn sexy, after all.

Outlawing groups could serve as a kind of extermination. Just think of the pleasing silence that would emanate from a vacant Speaker’s Corner once the Speech and Debate Society had been banished. It would put a whole new spin on the old philosophical question "If an SDS member shoots his mouth off in a forest, does he really make a sound?" The easy answer is, "Who cares so long as he’s in a dense forest far away."

And think how much Den beer and food would be coveted if the bar was disallowed. Drive the only watering hole on campus underground and you’d see campus spirit, alright. Students would really have something to fight for, first to gain status as an SSOB member–Secret Society of Beerdrinkers–and then the right to raise a glass and roar in proud, drunken defiance at the oppressive administration.

The path seems clear to me. Students need something to chase. Naked dances on the MacEwan South Lawn, some sacrifices and cloaks. Underground is where the action is–we just need to get there.

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