Make the most of your campus center experience

J.B. Sivanich

Last week, my former subordinate and now colleague, Erik Wyse, wrote a column printed in these pages titled “A guide to navigating your way through Mudd.” Clever as the title as is, it confused me a bit. I assumed that Wyse was writing about my home away from home, the Seeley G. Mudd library, but his article did not seem remotely related to building where I have spent at least five hours a day everyday for the past four years – if you think this is a joke, then you don’t know me. Though he occasionally used the word “library,” what Wyse described was more like a cosmic watering hole where mongooses, ice cream, vinegar drinks and “cute college coeds” all collide.
I had other problems with the article, notably the fact that having Erik Wyse as guiding you through anything is comparable to asking a penguin to help you with your math homework or asking the pope for relationship advice. But the biggest problem with the article is still that Wyse treated the library as if it was some social hub akin to the Max in “Saved by the Bell”.
This is not accurate: The library is for losers. It doesn’t offer burgers or cheesy fries – there are no plushy acrylic pink booths and Kelly Kapowski has never set foot in it. The only reason such a cool dude as myself goes there is that I’ve developed an intolerance to Mario Kart music which results in immediate headaches and so I need a place to work outside of the residence halls.
If Wyse wanted to treat one building as a microcosm of Lawrence social scene as a way to demonstrate his superior knowledge of its conventions and dominance over it, he should have chosen to write about the campus center, like I am going to do now.
Every community has one building that orients it and provides its center. In 99.5 percent of communities across the world this building is called a mall; here at Lawrence, it is the closest thing we have to a mall: our campus center.
The mall really is the modern world’s chapel: It is the one location where the sacred and the profane intermingle, where people of different ethnicities and religious beliefs all gather in humble reverence of the 25-percent-off sales rack.
To know a mall is to know a city.
When race riots were tearing up American cities in the 1960s, the nation’s top mayors came together in a secret meeting and agreed that the only solution for this historic crisis was the rapid expansion of malls so that urbanites of all colors could come together as equals in all-consuming fits of consumerist gluttony.
Oh, how I love nothing better than wasting an afternoon making multiple trips back and forth from Banana Republic and JC Penney deciding if my $35 is better spent on a pair of boxers or a pair of red and a blue matching sweaters – keep in mind that the boxers are pin-striped and are from Banana Republic.
When I think of all my best memories – my first word, my first kiss, my first run-in with the law, and don’t worry, Paul Blart wasn’t fast enough to catch me – I think of malls. Come to think of it, my only childhood memories that don’t involve malls are of online shopping, but I broke that bad habit – there’s just no replacement for the real thing.
I could go on and on about my love for the only truly American symbol now that the stars and stripes fly over the Obama White House, but I’ll just say that I’ve wasted a whole column without ever coming around to mentioning the subject I aimed to address in the beginning, the campus center – though I’ll concede that Erik Wyse’s rank amateurism was a bit distracting.
It is horribly unfortunate today’s historians, both academic and artistic, do not share my joyful appreciation of the mall. Only Kevin Smith and Tina Fey in “Mall Rats” and “Mean Girls,” respectively, have come anywhere close to artistically rendering what is the closest thing this fallible species has produced in trying to re-create the garden in which we first became fallible. To my dismay, our campus seems to be plagued by this disgusting disrespect for the greatest thing America has to offer the world besides TV-dinners and neo-conservatism.
But I know just the man who can save us.
Greg Griffin, if you are reading this, you and only you can bring the much-needed mall ambiance to our mall-starved campus. I know you can’t install an extravagant 12-foot neo-Greco water fountain next to the main stairwell or substitute a Marshall Field’s for that waste of a space called the Somerset Room, but an Auntie Anne’s corner stall or a foot massage thingy kiosk could go a long way in improving the quality of life here at Lawrence. Also, I didn’t really mean it when I said that the fountain thing might be impractical so please reconsider it; if I had a steady source for loose change, I would be much more inclined to do my laundry more than twice this term.

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