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.