Every spring the students at Knox College, a tiny, private liberal arts school in Illinois, wake up early on a random weekday and flunk out of class.
A campus-wide surprise party, Knox’s Flunk Day is an event put on by the school that students eagerly anticipate. The party’s date, and even the identities of its organizers, is kept secret until an early spring morning, when the entire campus is awakened at dawn by the shouts of a select groups of students know as “The Friars” running through campus and ringing the school’s Old Main bell. The campus quad is transformed with inflatable horse races, rock walls, carnival rides and a foam pit. Students face off against staff in a (mostly) friendly softball game. And oh yeah — all classes are cancelled. Whatever exams and paper deadlines may have existed are postponed for the impromptu holiday.
Colleges across the country have traditions like this, designed and thrown by the university and enjoyed by all. But fun like this is extremely rare at the New American University.
For the past decade, our school has held high regard among college students as a place to have a wild time. This year, ASU claimed the number six spot in Playboy magazine’s list of the nation’s top party schools. We also clinched the 20th spot in the Princeton Review’s 2010 list.
The University administration, however, has done its very best to poop the party and quash the image that ASU is anything other than a very serious public research institution. In fact, ASU President Michael Crow said in an interview with the Arizona Capitol Times last year, “The party-school image is a joke. It is worse than a joke. We are so far past that.” Zero fun, sir.
But in their zeal to remove our school’s name from one list, the administration neglects another important ranking: quality of life.
In addition to the all-important party school rankings, the Princeton Review releases a yearly list of schools found to be the best at fostering good student morale by offering a high quality of life. Based on responses from students, the survey ranks schools based on categories like campus beauty, relationship with the community, smoothness in school administration and how happy and friendly the student body is.
ASU is nowhere near the top.
In fact, no Arizona institute of higher learning made the top 20 in highest overall quality of life — although Prescott College did make the “Happiest Students” list, coming in at an astounding No. 12. Prescott, people.
ASU needs to be more proactive in creating and fostering fun on campus. An unhappy student body becomes an uninvolved student body. Student organizations struggle to get students to attend their events. Over the past several years, tailgates at Lot 59 have become so subdued, many students have stopped attending football games altogether.
If ASU really wants to remove our name from lists they find frivolous, fine. But if they’d like our standing to improve on rankings that truly do matter, step one is loosening up a bit and investing in student morale. Come on, it’ll be fun!
Zach thinks every day should be Flunk Day. Join the fun at firstname.lastname@example.org