Every University has it’s traditions. Since SFU was founded in 1965 with a bunch of egalitarian ideals, I was spared ‘frosh week’ and ‘fraternity/sorority rush’ with all the accompanying BS. UBC, being older and tawnier, had more of that but as a grad student tucked away in the Public Health Building I barely had to encounter it.
Flash forward to now: KTH is OLD-old, and I live in the middle of campus with campus action going on all around. I would have anticipated this would mean engineering students scurrying around to their next class with their laptops all dark academia chic …BUT NO! They have a lengthy and involved list of Frosh week/month activities which must be performed, pandemic be damned!
Lots of students march around, sing, dance. and generally do goofy things with their new classmates, presumably to accelerate forging of friendships and to develop program and major ‘spirit’, as in ‘Chemical Engineers are the BEST!!!’ They also play music at high volume starting at about 7AM for the next 12-14 hours, which is a bit tough for the work-at-home crowd when it is hella hot (open the windows!) but also hella loud (close them!)
Not all students wear tails, there are lots that wear brightly covered coveralls with patches called ‘ovve’ or ‘the student boilersuit‘. Seeing a crowd of 25 boisterous 19-yr-olds coming toward you wearing fushia overalls is a bit WTF. Everyone seems to be having fun,and it seems a sign that toxic masculinity does not have that strong a hold here.
The weirdest thing I saw was a small group driving around in an 80s volvo sedan that looked kinda like a cop car. It played terrible music at top volume through shitty speakers, and periodically they would get out and crouch menacingly in a tactical stance and stare down passers-by. The photo above was taken from my apartment, and I watched some folks come around the corner into the alley. They aren’t really in uniform, but black outfits and caps and big boots – just like the neo-nazis I saw at the Budapest pride festival. I guess the joke is… some folks shit their pants? This might be funny in some circumstances, but summer of 2020 is just not that time. I appreciate that THESE folks might never have had to be afraid of police or military, but there are a lot of international (and let’s face it, domestic) students who have. It seems to unnecessarily make campus a hostile place for what is at best a weak joke predicated on the unkindness of ‘punking’ someone. Eff these guys.
The large outdoor safety meeting was obviously much more my thing, and it was also blessedly quiet. It looks like homework assignments are rolling in because there is almost none of this in September… maybe this time next year we’ll really miss living on campus and all the lively frosh action. (Nah.)