This year St. Mary’s has a new slogan: “Keep St. Mary’s Weird!” The Orientation Leaders (OLs) have put this on their shirts and emphasized it during orientation with the first-years, spreading the message that is St. Mary’s is, quite simply, weird. As a first-year, if nothing else is taken away from orientation, it is the message that has been emblazoned on the backs of the OLs’ shirts.
During the speeches that have been given over the past couple of weeks, “Keep St. Mary’s Weird” has been said a lot. I know I have heard Dr. Urgo say it a few times, and several others have said it. It is also something I have heard from the OLs as they speak passionately about what they do.
In many ways, I highly respect the Orientation Leaders for all they do for new students who come to this school every year. I agree that it is important to spread the message about how unique St. Mary’s really is – this year, however, I do not agree with the statement that has been spread during orientation, and continues to float around campus. It doesn’t matter to me who came up with the statement, but I do present this question: What are the connotations of the statement that St. Mary’s is “weird”?
Many students like the slogan. They think that it emulates what St. Mary’s is, the kind of school it is and the types of students who live, study, and work here. The theory is good: we are a unique school filled with students of different interests and talents, students who belong here because they are unique and deserve to be here. I completely agree with the message that is being spread to new students: St. Mary’s is a very special place for unique, intelligent people with an eagerness to learn and engage themselves, investing in what they do and finding a passion for something that they love. That is what we promote.
Despite the fact that a fair number of students like the slogan, “Keep St. Mary’s Weird,” I have asked around campus a bit and have found that many students do not like it. I believe that a negative connotation could be attached.
Think back to middle school, where you might call someone weird if you didn’t like them. Maybe “Keep St. Mary’s Weird” isn’t the same thing. In fact, I know it isn’t; it wasn’t meant to be an insult to the school or anything living and studying here. But that is the first thing I thought of when I saw that slogan, and I remember being labeled as “weird” because of certain personality traits, as well as being more than a little offended.
A lot of students, myself included, consider themselves to be “weird.” For example, I have weird habits and traits that make me who I am, as do a lot of other students. I love bad movies that no one else likes, and I don’t like movies that most other people love. I have My Little Pony figurines sitting on my desk and I still consider my teddy bear to be the most awesome thing ever. I have a good friend, another person who doesn’t like “Keep St. Mary’s Weird,” who still loves Sailor Moon and who makes the most epic platypus and lama faces you have ever seen. We both consider each other and ourselves weird.
However, we don’t like being labeled that way. We know we are unique, and we point it out jokingly, but we would rather be labeled as something that does not have the potential to have a negative connotation, because uniqueness should be something that is celebrated, and it is something that no one should have to be embarrassed about, which is exactly how some students feel when thinking about uniqueness in terms of our new slogan.