I've always considered myself a moderate. Laugh it up all you want, but it's the truth -- I'm far from extreme. In my mind, drugs should remain illegal, organized religion is a good thing and if we eliminate discrimination, capitalism could work. It's almost embarrassing! But even though I think I'm a pretty mild liberal, one issue sets me apart. As soon as I open my mouth about those crunchy, brown pieces of bread that are tossed away at every football game, people not only start calling me a radical, but heartless as well. Despite these accusations, my opinion remains unwavering: The tradition of throwing toast at Penn football games is despicable. The University of Pennsylvania is an institution filled with essentially wealthy (or at least middle class) students. Nobody here is starving or without a room. Yes, post graduation loans may seem overbearing, but most students are pretty comfortable for the moment. While one would think that our economic position would allow us to question and fight the poverty that exists even locally, instead we throw food on the ground. And not just a little bit of food -- we throw so much that we need a modified Zamboni to clean it all up. Look at it this way -- if students throw about 100 loaves at each of the five home games, it means we throw 750 pounds of bread on the ground every year. That's over a quarter of a ton. And I'm not even counting the extra bread thrown by alumni or parents during special events. That wasted bread -- obviously meaningless playthings for students -- could probably do a lot for the more than 36 million United States citizens who live below the poverty line. But don't even think about asking a Penn student to worry about these citizens. If the wasteful nature of this tradition is ever questioned, it is immediately answered with the complaint that the administration has banned drinking at football games. In fact, many students claim that allowing "highballs" in Franklin Field is the true solution to the toast issue. And as if the self-righteous attitude of our student population isn't enough, hypocrisy also hangs over the terrible toast tradition. Take, for example, the multiple activities that occur during Poverty Awareness Week. These events, sponsored by Civic House, include a hunger banquet and various speakers. Civic House's concern is admirable but obviously ignored by the thousands of students who participate in this almost weekly fall event. Instead of donating that loaf of bread to a shelter or food drive, we fling it onto the ground to be trampled, leaving it inedible. I realize, however, that I stand almost alone on this issue. While some friends simply tell me to "lighten up," others defend their behavior with the explanation that throwing toast is a tradition, and is somehow an integral part of the Penn experience. While this may be true, there are plenty of other traditions that students no longer follow. According to The Practical Penn, other customs included igniting trolley tracks, ripping off the pants of fellow Quakers and "beating on police barriers." Not to mention the discriminatory traditions that include rejecting applicants based on gender. So when people declare that the toast throwing needs to remain because it is "tradition," I usually ask them if they really want to return to the sexist, racist, classist atmosphere of 150 years ago. But, to be fair, traditions do have merit. They provide places for all factions of the University community to come together and to share in what is sometimes the only thing we have in common -- being a part of the Penn community. Doing activities together helps create a sense of unity, and that is certainly worth preserving. Instead of getting rid of the tradition, perhaps the University should buy synthetic pieces of toast that can be recycled. Maybe we could goad Nerf into creating its version of bread. Whatever the solution, something needs to be done. Keeping our Penn identity must not prevent students from being conscientious members of society. So go and yell heartily at the next Penn sporting event. But, first, do me a favor and donate that extra loaf of bread to someone who needs it.Comments powered by Disqus
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