Each year, the works featured on the First-Year Studies syllabus are announced, and each year these works are scrutinized to no end — except for Plato’s Republic, which keeps alive Lawrence’s century-long tradition of pain and suffering. Every other work, however, goes through rigorous debate before it is added to the curriculum. But Lawrentians may be surprised to hear that a short list of syllabus candidates go through trial runs. Every spring term, a select mgroup of first-year students take a university course to participate in class discussions of the proposed First-Year Studies works. These students are also required to sign a non-disclosur agreement.
Many works have been proposed, but over the last ten years, the popular card game of UNO™ has gained the most traction. But students caught up in this strategic masterpiece’s grassroots movement may be disappointed to hear it has been banned from future considerations. While all decisions about the curriculum are made behind closed doors, a recent leak has revealed classified audio files to the Lawrentian. These leaked documents show the case study responsible for Lawrence’s decision to ban UNO from the First-Year Studies curriculum. Names have been removed for privacy. Reader discretion is advised:
PROF: Before we get started, I want to make sure everyone has the correct copy that I’ve put on the syllabus. Is there anyone who does not have the UNO Classic Edition? Not Retro Edition, not UNO Flip! or UNO Attack! Alright, as long as everyone has the correct translation, let’s start with the footnotes. There are additional rules that have been added to the traditional game over time. Did you guys look at the additional rules?
PEER 1: I was a bit confused about the “challenge” rule?
PROF: Let’s clarify. Does someone want to explain that? Why can’t the next player always just draw 4?
Class remains silent.
PROF: What does the “cumulative” rule say?
PEER 2: It says that if you get a +4 card, but you have a +4 card in your hand, you can play that and give the total to the next player.
PROF: This is a power struggle. We don’t want that extra burden of drawing +4. When we try to divert our own problems, sometimes it works, but sometimes it blows up in our faces. Time and time again, we will see Mattel™ daring us to take risks. We have to ask ourselves, is it worth taking risks to reach salvation? Yes, question?
PEER 3: Will our own personal games for the homework count towards our final grade?
PROF: C’mon, let’s be serious here. Let’s move onto the hand size. Seven cards seems like a pretty small hand size compared to the number of cards we will likely end up drawing. Show of hands: how many of you during the homework at some point had a hand size of over 20? Over 30? Okay, a few. Good. Question?
PEER 1: In my game, we got pretty close to drawing the whole deck. Is it worthwhile to use a second deck?
PROF: Absolutely. There’s an excellent memoir by famous online UNO player SoftBelch37 in which he describes growing up playing with two decks. He and his brother would each play with two hands, which meant they had to draw cards from the deck with their mouths. He describes tasting the sweat on the cards, knowing what he had drawn before he saw it just based on the texture. That’s also why I wanted us to start with a physical deck.
The class takes notes vigorously.
PEER 1: I also didn’t quite get why we weren’t using the online version. Wouldn’t it be easier to remember the rules and hold all the cards if we used the online version?
PROF: The online version is good, but studies have shown that people who play UNO with physical cards are far more likely to understand the deeper meanings of the game and have a retention rate almost double that of people who use the online game. It’s a little more paper waste, but the trees who died to make this deck for you died proud.
PEER 3: Why not just use the classic rules? It’s a lot easier to win when there aren’t all these other rules that you have to follow that make you draw more cards.
PROF: You’re missing the point. What is a win in UNO worth if you only follow the easier rules? The point of the game isn’t to win — it’s to hold the weight of your failures in your hand and to discard them, one my one. It’s about overcoming despite the weight of loss.
PEER 3: The point of any game is to win. That’s literally the whole point of a game.
PROF: What does the word “game” really mean? Define it.
PEER 3: A task where you win or you lose.
PROF: Oh, so if I just — let me see your deck for a moment? Oh, you didn’t bring it to class? That’s convenient. Who came to class prepared today? Great, thank you. If this is all just a simple game to you, how about I give you a game? Let’s not play UNO. No, let’s play 108 card pickup, how about that? [The professor opens up the deck of cards and spills them on PEER 3’s desk.] Go on, pick them up.
PEER 3 asks PEER 2 if he can borrow her UNO deck. He reaches into the deck and reveals a “Reverse” card, then hands it to the professor. PEER 3 starts to talk but is interrupted. Sounds of a scuffle and an UNO Attack! machine firing can be heard over the next three minutes of audio. Then the recording stops.
Lawrence administration has yet to release an official statement on why UNO has been banned from the First-Year Studies curriculum.