It took a large team of construction workers (and, briefly, armed guards) over a year to build a Commons - keeping structural elements intact and polishing things here and there.
It took far less time, though, for a select few on campus to build a funhouse.
Funhouses, it seems, with their creepy clowns and distorting mirrors, are largely a thing of the past, but with the admission of Andover’s 232nd incoming class and the opening of the American Express Commons, one seems to have sprung up here on Andover Hill.
There were a few signs of the nascent funhouse – the massive website with goofy student profiles, faux parchment and animated gorillas, comes to mind – but nothing quite like this.
At new Commons, we were greeted with an ice sculpture that read “PARESKY” in capital letters. This may have been the most cartoonish thing imaginable. In the midst of a worldwide recession and budget shortfall, the sculpture only made one wonder if the mold for “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” was unavailable. The giant TV screens displaying menu items with the interspersed, all too familiar loud branding (WELCOME TO PARESKY) are equally silly.
Not only, though, is the branding in-your-face offensive, it also defies logic. Commons, well, is common. It’s ours, all of Andover’s, equally. No name, no matter how generous the donor (and we ought to appreciate Mr. Paresky’s gift) should be slapped on it.
Given the name “Paresky Commons,” I can infer that the building is common to all Pareskys. So, Dickeys and company, guess we’re eating elsewhere.
While I’ll be dining at what I’ll call the AmEx Commons, I implore you, dear reader, to dub the new place “Commons.” Naming rights are for stadiums.
A stone’s throw from Commons, over in Admissions, the branding squad was working overtime, generating a website feature even wackier than the animated Gunga tour.
Trivia Time, courtesy of the people who brought you “yield machines”™:
Which of the following descriptions of admitted students does not appear on andover.edu?
“A young man from North Hollywood, California, who came to the United States from the mountains of Peru only four years ago. A serious student, he reads books about quantum physics and international governments for pleasure. At age 13, he is currently studying AP Calculus BC.”
“An outgoing young woman of Iranian heritage currently living in Plano, Texas but attending boarding school in France. She speaks Farsi, French and English and has studied Spanish and Arabic. She hopes to add Chinese to her list when she gets to Andover! Truly a citizen of the world, she is making a documentary on the humanitarian work she has done in Mumbai, India, where she helped establish an eye clinic.”
Done working? Checked your answers? Both were online; both are real admits; all of this text is real —and not written by me. (Sorry for the trick question; that 50 percent mark might knock your data point down a bit on Naviance.)
These kids seem impressive (and kudos to Admissions if they’re able to lock these folks down) – I only speak a language and a half, and I watched “Degrassi” for pleasure as an eighth grader. I’m not going to blather on about extracurriculars.
I ask you, dear reader, what purpose these synopses could possibly serve? They must embarrass the students they describe and wound the egos of the admits (and current students, perhaps) who didn’t make the cut.
As for the blurbs as recruiting tools, who wants to attend a school filled with kids who read about quantum physics for pleasure? One imagines the applicants already know how great Andover’s academics are, and one imagines that there are better examples of the intellectual curiosity that has been known to pervade this campus.
I wonder if there is anything tackier, anything more garish that could possibly greet admitted students. Neon-colored shorts that say “Andover” on the rear with every acceptance letter? Shag carpeting in AmEx Commons? A Lady GaGa concert for all admits?
Or maybe a personalized ice sculpture for each and every kid. Welcome to the Paresky Funhouse.
Jack Dickey is four-year Senior from Guilford, Connecticut. He is a former News Director of The Phillipian.