In the time before move-in week, GVSU has given The Black Sheep an exclusive look at what’s in store for incoming freshmen. As we arrived on campus, we were greeted by Brian Gordon, organizer of the Welcome Week plans.
He guided us to Kistler, the main freshman living center, and explained: “We’re taking things in a new direction. Think of this batch of freshmen as guinea pigs for an attitude change. We think you’ll like our new approach to handling incomers.” He held the door open for us, and we entered into a gray, empty room with a white banner dangling from the ceiling with the words “Welcome Future Debtors” in plain black text.
Gordon grinned at us, “Well, what do you think?” He handed us gray noisemakers and party hats. One member of our party blew into her noisemaker, letting out a monotone “weh” that bent down in pitch towards the end.
Our guide elaborated, “One of the biggest complaints against this generation is that they’re spoiled and self-centered. We believe that it’s best to be as blunt as possible with them, and to remind them of the grayscale, subsistence-driven lifestyles they will lead.”
We ventured down the hallway toward the dormitories, each door bore a unique pattern of lines. One of our writers scanned it with his phone, and Gordon commented, “Those are QR codes that grant savings promotions to freshmen who scan them. That one produces a pop-up that combines an ad for some bank’s new student checking offer with an ad for alcoholic energy drinks.”
Gordon reached one particular room and opened the door, beckoning us inside. He told us, “Nobody was living in this room at the time,” and that, “It was the best representation of what was waiting for incomers.” It was not much different than a normal empty dorm, except that placed on the mattress was a rusty metal cog. Gordon revealed its purpose, “People at this age like to think of themselves as special snowflakes, but they’re really more like parts in a watch, or a diesel engine.”
Gordon chuckled at the looks on our faces, “You’re wondering if this is all necessary, because colleges don’t leave things on incomers’ mattresses like it’s a hotel in the first place, right? We know it’s a little heavy-handed, but so is the rhetoric that inflated the egos of this generation in the first place. Think of this gesture as an art installment or a performance piece meant to make the viewer think. Naturally, the beds of debt-free students will each hold a gourmet chocolate mint. ”
One of my fellow journalists side-eyed me with a look that said, “Does this guy think he’s, like, Reverse Banksy?”
We reached the floor’s restroom, and Gordon turned to face all of us at once, proclaiming, “This here was an idea from yours truly: I call it ‘Black-Only Bathrooms.’” A collective gasp fell upon our crowd, but Gordon laughed, “Oh no, it’s not what you think. What you do is you scan your credit card, and if you’re a debt-free student, aka ‘in the black’, you can use the bathroom.” As our heart rates returned to normal, Gordon led us out of the building.
That’s phase one, according to Gordon. He told us the next phase might involve, “Mandatory Jumpsuits,” and “Corporate Overlords,” but we couldn’t pay full attention to him over the sound of our own forced politeness and internal eye-rolling. To conclude, he added, “Come back for graduation, you’ll get to see my ‘Black-Only Diplomas’.”