Walking with no shoes,
Being whoever you want
Let’s embrace the weird
Those simple words, which were printed on the back of every Orientation Leader’s shirt and echoed throughout campus this orientation, highlight this year’s theme for orientation: Keep St. Mary’s Weird.
As an OL myself, when I first heard the theme, I thought to myself St. Mary’s isn’t that weird, is it? But when I read the haiku poem (which goes in accordance with the summer reading book required for first-year students this year) and reviewed my time here at St. Mary’s thus far, it just made sense.
To me, the haiku and the theme both address and display three things about St. Mary’s. The first point lies within the first line: “Walking with no shoes.” It reminds me of the fantastic traditions St. Mary’s is known for and has gained over the years. And while walking with no shoes may be an everyday occurrence for some students, it reminds me of both the smaller and the bigger traditions carried out on campus as well.
After all, there’s not many places where you can get academic credit for learning to sail, where your most memorable birthday is the one when you got thrown in the pond, or where anyone can go out on the weekends in a flannel shirt and have no one question them. Or, some of you may remember, when a quarter of the school’s student population was living on a boat for six weeks. How about when you spent the early morning hours of Easter Sunday hunting for spray painted beer cans around campus? Ringing any bell towers?
And not only do the quirky traditions that season the community represent the theme, but the qualities of the students, faculty, and staff who consistently fill the campus do as well.
This brings me to the second line and second point highlighted by the theme: “Being whoever you want.” The unique traits, interests, and activities attached to students and community members are the reasons St. Mary’s can keep its “weird” name, too. Want to be on Burlesque, SGA, and a sports team all at the same time? Be our guest.
The “weird” isn’t labeling anyone as, well, weird, it’s just inviting everyone to never be afraid of doing things your own way. Besides, our weirdness and our differences are what makes us us; they make us strong.
And finally, the third line of the poem and final point represented by the theme is all about bringing those traditions, qualities, memories, and quirks together and offering them to the community and beyond: “Let’s embrace the weird.”
Again, the theme is not meant to call students who go here weird, or demean the community in anyway. Instead, it simply highlights that fact that walking with no shoes and doing things out of the ordinary is just our style; that being whoever you want to be should be not only the St. Mary’s Way but the world’s way, too; and that we recognize our unique qualities as a campus and aren’t afraid to celebrate them.
Let’s keep it.