I was looking through some ancient files on my computer, and I was fascinated by a fragment of an email I’d saved from a dormitory debate back in college about a certain obscene snow sculpture that someone had built in front of our building. The building in question was called Risley Hall, a notorious den of the arts and counterculture at Cornell University. And this text strikes me as a great document of what countercultural student identities looked like in the early years of the last decade:
It’s not fair to tell someone you’re from Risley and have them roll their eyes and look at you funny. It’s not fair to be teased or have someone assume you’re a gay, pot-smoking poet with piercings and handcuffs who hates white christians and GAP clothes. It’s not fair to be asked “so how was the orgy?” every Monday morning. And it would seem at first that things like the snow cock would only perpetuate this. But I think it’s important to weigh the impacts. Someone walking by Risley, seeing the snow cock, might remark to themselves “crazy Risley,” shake their heads and keep on walking. Perhaps they’d say “it figures! Damn perverts and their orgies!” But I don’t think that it would change people’s minds if the cock hadn’t been erected in the first place. No one would have though “Gee, I used to think Risley was the weird dorm, but the absence of icy genitals makes me think I was wrong!” The fact is that our reputation is staked on a whole lot more than frozen, suggestive precipitation. It’s based on us.
I have to ask “what would it take to get people to change their minds?” I mean, seriously…we’d have to get rid of Rocky immediately, and the LGBTQ probably shouldn’t be as vocal. The SCA sure looks like freaks on the front lawn when they practice. Masquerave has people milling around our dorm dressed all sorts of perverted ways. And then there’s the way Risleyites dress in general… Continue reading It’s not fair to have them roll their eyes (at hippie intellectuals)