Friday, March 27, 2009

**IMPORTANT UPDATE** (not really, but I enjoy making be-beep be-beep noises in my head around those words)

Holy Shit. I knew my University webpage portrayed a completely fictitious version of my campus. I knew other University web pages did the same. I know all of our schools are trying to portray the same things. The same academic landscape. For example, ALL schools have this picture:

Oldest and Most Picturesque Building on Campus on a Sunny Day: The building must be made of stone and have some roman numerals (or anything in Latin, or even a quote by someone who signed the Constitution) on it. At least one tree and some very colorful flowers in full bloom are in front of the building. The grass in the foreground must be of PGA golf-course quality. The background needs some distant mountains (if unavailable: oceans, tall buildings, and/or a US flag can be substituted). The scene is so filled with sunlight you would think the earth is roughly 2 meters from the sun. (Never mind that this building is decrepit inside and absolutely nothing of any importance ever occurs within its walls.)

In the comments lots of “classic” scenes show up: Chemistry students measuring Gatorade or gazing into flasks of undetermined contents. The library “diversity tableau” the “pretending to study” students, and the gleeful professor with a perfectly legible chalkboard/whiteboard full of notes behind them. WE ALL have them. I understand the marketing issues, but I am blown away be the repetition. I know, I know. We all know this. I shouldn’t be surprised. I never explicitly searched University websites with this in mind though. I was initially laughing as I found endless examples of every cliché mentioned, but then it stopped getting funny. I never realized how blatantly formulaic and ubiquitous it was. It makes me think it would be fun to create a completely fictitious University website. Combine it all. Find all the best examples of cliché images and text and create one gleaming beacon of academic bullshit. We could then deface it. Give every smiling person on campus some off-color dialogue. Photoshop the buildings back into reality. Put all the trash back. Rewrite everything.

This is what happens to my brain at this point in the semester (so close, yet so far from over), and when my basketball team not only lost, but lost big. Damn.


  1. Isn't that similar to the plot from the movie, "Accepted?"

  2. Definitely.

    And we have to include Before and After section. I SWEAR that one of my alma maters actually filled all the otherwise-dry-as-a-bone fountains all over campus AND served prime effing rib (instead of mystery meat) in the dorms on Parent's Weekend.

  3. Here is my fictitious university photo story. You know those online degree mills that talk about their beautiful elm-shaded campus in frustratingly vague terms, and never quite disclose where they are? One day I was browsing one of those websites, smirking at their ecstatic description of their picturesque library. Then I looked at the picture. I did a double-take. It was MY picturesque library! They had taken a picture of my high school library and claimed it as part of their imaginary campus. At first I was mad but then I realized it would let me earn my advanced degrees while I walked between the dorms and the math building.

  4. I myself have been in a posed 'campus' photo - it was on the day of the annual uni pub crawl no less - I posed in a food analysis lab staring dazedly at a test tube of coloured liquid with an insane grin.
    They actually used the picture!!

  5. A tangent, but my local Latina/o Studies web page (which is not controlled by the unit) keeps "mysteriously" reverting back to its incarnation from several years ago (Including now entirely out-of-date faculty listings, graduation requirements, and course offerings). It takes weeks to get them (We are never sure who the "them" really are) to fix the problem, only for it to happen over and over again. So, while the front page can be lovingly lavished with airbrushed photos of learning students, the actual academic web pages are absurdly wrong.

  6. I typed in "student life" as Google search image and this one caught my attention.

    Look at the young women happily frolicking and showing school spirit with the man who may or may not know that he looks like Benjamin Franklin. Is that supposed to suggest that the school is not age-ist? Or that even those who favor elaborate costumes in daily life are welcomed?

  7. Ink, no wonder why schools aren't hiring. The damn benjamins aren't dying!
    FUCKING RETIRE ALREADY OR DIE! The students don't think you're cute anymore. Go fly a kite, ben!

  8. Ink, UPenn has Ben Franklin EVERYWHERE on campus. My dad calls it the "Ben Franklin theme park". As such, the dude in costume is actually part of the school spirit, and that wouldn't work for any other school. It's kind of hilarious, actually.