“Freedom! No rules!”
This was the rallying cry as I entered my first “snarty” (for those unfamiliar, that’s a “snow-day party"). And it rang true. The rules I’m used to did not apply. Parties which, by all normal practices, were fit to have doormen and impose the classic “who do you know here?” song and dance to potential guests, were instead open to all.
Typical barriers of Greek organizations, clubs, and majors were broken down in the simple interest of having a good day as Penn students. Walking down Locust between the snarties connected me with multiple groups I’d otherwise have no business associating with, and connected me to my peers in a way that could only come about here and now. We need a little more of that energy on this campus.
I spent a summer in Washington in a hall filled entirely with students from the University of Michigan, and I was blown away by how well they got along simply because they went to the same school. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to visit them a few times since that summer, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the Michigan pre-football-game tailgate atmosphere is rivaled only by Fling at Penn. But there’s no reason that that should be the case.
Students by the thousands don the Maize and Blue and swarm the streets; unapologetic in their love for their university and their place in it. There are (so far as I’ve seen) no closed houses, no exclusive mixers, and no rigid divisions between students. There’s just Michigan and the spirit that comes with that identity.
That kindred spirit among all of the students making up one big, diverse, exciting, impassioned university is a hallmark of the college experience, and one which should shine at Penn. There’s a reason we’re called the social Ivy.
Former Daily Pennsylvanian Senior Sports Editor William Snow wrote an article suggesting mandatory attendance at Penn sporting events. He argued that “we need to make a concerted effort to deconstruct the ‘Penn Face’ that keeps us out of the Palestra and in Huntsman instead … there is so much more to college than worrying about the future.”
That’s what I saw today. We weren’t celebrating because we thought we were supposed to, we weren’t checking wristbands, and we weren’t concerned about the internal divisions Penn students have. It didn’t matter who you were or what you were doing with your life; we just wanted to make the best of a snow day on this campus.
Whether you’re excited for parties, the teach-in, or just your favorite class, the palpable energy along Locust is something we all want a little more of.
Being a Penn student ought to mean something to all of us. We’re Quakers before our majors, our schools, or our tax brackets. That identity is something to be proud of, and something which unites us all. Let’s indulge it.
As pre-professional and preparatory as Penn is, these are our college years. They should be creative, collaborative, and exploratory. I understand that we’re moving toward diverse careers and futures, but it’s important to remember that we define what Penn is.
I’m a nearly graduated senior who doesn’t have much longer to take ownership of the Penn experience, but those formative years are ones which I’ll carry with me forever – years that will bind me to Wharton undergrads and Penn Law students alike.
When we watch movies with time travel, we’re always afraid of the butterfly effect. We worry that any small change in the past will have a dramatic effect on the future. Strangely, it seems we never consider what a significant effect our present actions have on the future we haven’t yet experienced.
Five, 10, 20, 50 years from now, you’ll talk about your time at Penn, and you won’t say who the treasurer of that exclusive club was. You’ll talk about what made us Quakers; what defined the experience above the clubs and the classes. Today, I had one of those experiences.
“Freedom! No rules!” If I can paraphrase: camaraderie; no divisions. This was just a snow day, but I hope we all carry the mindset of the importance of good fun and shared experience with us as we go forward. Whether it’s a snow day, a sports game, or the end of exam season: snarty on, Quakers. Snarty on.
DYLAN REIM is a College senior from Princeton, N.J. studying philosophy and political science. His email address is email@example.com.
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