If I had a dollar for every Canada Goose, Burberry trench, or Moncler puffer jacket I see at Penn, I could probably buy Amy Gutmann’s blazer collection two times over. Penn students love designer names — the more 0s and French written on the price tag, the better. But I’m not writing today to discuss Penn’s love for luxury — there have already been more than enough memes and DP features thoroughly dissecting this phenomenon.
Their choices in attire likely aren't for warmth, as the first confirmed sighting of Canada Goose was reported in mid-October. They also probably aren't fashion either, as most of the items are not exceptionally unique in design (See: 17 coats that look exactly like Canada Goose parkas).
I believe that many Penn students’ fixation on fashion is due to the simple fact that we know people will be watching. It is SABSing semester-in, semester-out. And there is no other Penn quirk that better attests to the SABS phenomenon than the Penn Crushes page on Facebook.
Although the page recently has not been active for unknown reasons, Penn Crushes churned out large volumes of content on a daily basis during its prime. The page features anonymous submissions largely from the undergraduate population — from posts blatantly calling out the attractiveness of specific students and faculty on a particular day, to exclamations of love for the community-at-large, there has been an endless stream of submissions. I have personally found some of the anonymous contributors to be alarmingly keen (i.e. this post), leading me to dread the many mornings I rolled into class wearing free IT T-shirts and mismatched socks.
While many anonymous postings are unique to Penn’s community and culture, we are not alone in having an unofficial “crushes” page where undergraduate students submit anonymous professions of love. Just to name a few, Georgetown University, the University of Chicago, the University of Virginia, Duke University, and Cornell University all have relatively active pages of their own that feature similarly provocative content.
So why are anonymous crush submission pages so popular at Penn and other college campuses? At Penn, the influx of anonymous submissions isn’t just limited to Penn Crushes — a whopping 493 love notes were received for 34th Street’s Valentine's Day special, indicating that, despite the apparent end of Penn Crushes, submission opportunities are still actively pursued by Penn students.
Other than notable restlessness of the 18 to 22-year-old demographic, the popularity of anonymous crush postings may be due to colleges being enormous institutions with countless people. One may never see passersby again, so such posts become a last-resort mating call. While most propositions on Penn Crushes do not come to fruition, it is a tested method to catch someone’s attention.
I also admit that as long as the post is appropriate, it is a nice feeling to receive a tailored crush note every once in a blue moon. Receiving such crushes is reminiscent of middle school and high school days, when one may have found surprises in their lockers from secret admirers (or adversaries). Nonetheless, it is understandably frustrating that the posts are anonymous, and so there is really no other way to find out the sender other than the interested party contacting the lucky person directly.
But I suppose there is no helping the anonymity of Penn Crushes, as it would be inappropriate to compliment someone’s hair on Locust. While the future of Penn Crushes is unknown at present, what’s for sure is that people at Penn are always watching. I, for sure, will think twice the next time I am tempted to wear my middle school band shirt to morning Econ.
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