By Gus Hoffmann
For those who do not remember, at the end of Denison’s August Orientation, every incoming Freshman is given their graduation tassel. It’s supposed to represent the continuity of your Denison experience, that is, if you can hold onto it for four years. Although it’s a cute little thing Denison does, it is kind of absurd to ask students to keep track of a piece of string for your entire time at Denison. Think about all the times students move out, move back in, and change locations. At least for me, that tassel had zero chance of staying in my possession. Although it’s really a minor inconvenience to acquire a new tassel before graduation, I think that this Denison tradition also represents the clear disconnect between the Denison student body and Denison’s administration and is one of many policies made without the input of students.
Are others in the same boat as me? Out of our February 2022 survey participants, 20.3 percent of students say they can’t locate their tassel. However, there are also several interesting trends in this data. Out of this proportion of Denison students who cannot locate their tassel, most of them are male. I do not know much about gender studies, but it’s clear that dudes can’t control their tassels. Even though males are the majority of those who can’t find their tassel, interestingly, freshmen women have a slightly lower percentage of knowing where their tassel is compared to freshmen men. Sophomores are the most clueless about their tassels. For the males in the Sophomore grade, about 36% of them do not know where their tassel is, compared to 25% of women. After speaking with a sophomore, I found out that their Aug-O was conducted online – that surely explains it. Senior women have the highest rates of knowing where their tassels are – maybe a couple should teach a seminar on how to keep track of that piece of string.
The tassel policy represents only one disconnect between the Denison student body and Administration. During my sophomore year, it was announced that it would not be permitted to register apartments as social spaces. Due to “architectural advice from experts” it was deemed unsafe to use the Sunny apartments as party spots. During construction of the Moonies, Denison provided party tents for students to use while a new social space was being built by the IMs. The tents were actually a major success, with each tent on campus packed to the brim with students. I wish I could say the same about the Moonies.
Since 2020, 127 has collected data regarding the places where people drink on campus. During February of 2020, just over half of Denison students reported drinking in the Sunnies, while only about 28% of people reported drinking in the Moonies. The Moonies beat out the Sunnies once – in March of 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions were loosened at Denison. In October 2021 and February 2022, only around ~20% of Denison students reported having a friend drink in the Moonies.
Even though it’s “prohibited” to throw parties in apartments, many students report that they still drink in the Sunnies. Denison made a massive investment in building the Moonies, however, in recent months they have been heavily underutilized. Another 127 writer informed me that the Office of Student Life was offering $500 to organizations willing to register the Moonies on weekends. The Moonies were built with the intention to offer Denisonians a safe place to party and gather. Due to the apparent disconnect between Denison students and decision-makers at our university, the Moonies were constructed without enough input from what students desire in their social spaces. Why is it that Sunnies continue to be and the temporary tents were a success socially? While the Moonies are often left empty on the weekends (trust me I can see the building from my window), is it because the building is too big, too hard to register, or an intangible factor I can’t pinpoint? Overall, it is really a shame that Denison made such a huge investment in social spaces that are generally not popular with the student body.
In this article, I’ve basically spent the entire time ragging on Denison. However, as a Senior with a couple weeks left, there are alot of things Denison does right. Even though the Covid restrictions last year were oppressive and scary at times, our university was still able to remain open while many schools across the country closed. Additionally, Denison does construct new buildings with the intention to make life better for students. This article’s purpose is to highlight the lack of transparency between the Denison students’ preferences and the administration’s perceived notion of what Denison students want or require. Part of it is on us, the Student body. We need to better articulate Denison students’ desires pertaining to social life and traditions we think we could do without. Also, we should help decide what platform is best to communicate with the decision-makers at Denison (Yik Yak!). Generally, I think these decisions need to be made by underclassmen. Underclassmen can’t be sidelined by admins, while Juniors and Seniors can easily be deterred by going abroad and graduating. Underclassmen have the longest time left at Denison, and the decisions made affect them the most, so they need to have a voice in the conversation. For the seniors, if you’re looking for a new red and white tassel they’re sold for $8 at the bookstore.
Gus Hoffmann is a Global Commerce major at Denison University, following graduation he will be moving to Boston and will be dropping his R’s and drinking plenty of Dunkies.