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Inquiring Minds: Eastern needs tradition, through pet-based dorm unity

Homecoming is a good time to think about what makes a university different and what holds true about it over time. Eastern is a young school, barely 50 years old. That means it’s very light on tradition, the identifying characteristics that make Wheaton and Harvard different from each other and better than Strayer and DeVry.

But this is a genuine, four-year residential college. It has a beautiful campus. We don’t want it to be a sterile environment, simply a degree-granting modern university with a Christian emphasis and an on-campus living option.

We don’t advocate doing what Boston College did a couple of years ago, when they formed a committee to suggest and implement new traditions. That’s just illegitimate.

But traditions can be helped along. Eastern’s most visible tradition, that of painting the Rock, has been protected by the administration and the grounds crew simply not painting over what students paint on. And the pro-free-thinking attitude at Eastern creates an environment where Rock-painting has flourished.

So what can Eastern do to promote a tradition-forming environment? Helping dorm unities – and perhaps even dorm rivalries – is a great place to start.

Right now, this is an area where Eastern is deeply lacking. Students’ lack of attention to the dorms’ Homecoming floats is just symptomatic of this.

To start with, the residence halls need to have identifiable differences and rallying points, things deeper than whether there’s an air hockey table in the basement.

One way to reach that goal, borrowing an idea from Reed College in Oregon, is to set up a system of dorm pets.

We’re not kidding about this. For instance, the homey, cozy atmosphere in Doane makes it the perfect spot for a small family of cats. Kea-Guffin people strike us as dog-loving types. North Campus Hall’s hospital-like atmosphere would be a good place for a fishtank.

Taking care of the pets would not be that difficult, either. The pets would live in the RDs’ apartments during semester breaks, and during term-time the RAs on duty would be responsible for caring for the animals.

After all, the universal appeal of pets make them the perfect way to unify people. People would move to the dorms that house their favorite pet. Conversations between first years and upperclassmen could go beyond the awkward formalities and straight to heart to hearts on cats, dogs or iguanas.

The pets would also serve as the mascots for the dorms, the symbol of everything that is good about NCH, Doane, Gough, etc.

And perhaps Doane and Kea would start fighting like the cats and dogs that would represent them.

Inquiring Minds is the collective opinion of the editorial staff and not necessarily representative of the entire staff. It is written by the managing editor and the editor-in-chief.

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