A few weeks ago, I sent a request to the senior staff of Knox College to host an event that was, at the time, to be called “Mudluscious.” This word is derived from a poem by e.e. cummings called “in Just-,” a poem about the coming of springtime. The event is meant to celebrate spring on the Knox campus with bands, an open mic, displays of student art and a raffle to benefit the Galesburg Hunger Action Group and the Knox County Humane Society.
Some time after my request was submitted, I received an email back telling me that my event had been approved, with several conditional changes. One of these conditional changes was that I needed to change the name of my event to, maybe, “Spring Festival—No mud pits!” to quote the email.
Surprised that there would be an objection to the name “Mudluscious,” I wrote back and explained the origin of the word, hoping the staff would reconsider. Once again I was told they would not “permit [me] to hold the event with the title Mudluscious.”
I do have to say, I am kind of shocked that, even with a valid explanation, the staff won’t allow me to hold an event just because it has the word “mud” in its title. To me, there are several things that represent flawed logic here. It might be safe to say that most Knox students are not just looking to roll around in mud any chance they get. The fact that the mud pit, as it exists now as a part of Flunk Day, is a beloved (and yet eerily forbidden) Flunk Day tradition is beloved in large part because it doesn’t happen any other time. It is a tradition used to signal the coming of Flunk Day, a day of ridiculousness, a day of celebration when classes have been cancelled and we get a break from our busy schedules. An event lasting a few hours in which people will read some poetry, play some music and maybe dance a little bit should not be cause to worry that we heathens shall once again slather ourselves in mud.
Furthermore, just this week there was a post on Knox College’s Facebook page polling students about where their favorite outdoor spot on campus is. One of the options? The Flunk Day mud pit. I admit that I am no expert on who runs the Knox Facebook page, but I sure would hope that it’s not someone in the faculty. Given how severely the faculty opposes the mud pit, it might be a bit hypocritical of them to list it as a perfectly acceptable option for a “hangout spot” but not let a student use the word “mud” in an event. Regardless of who runs that Facebook page, I’d even venture to say that this whole situation is absurd. The Flunk Day mud pit does not have monopoly over a word. If we are at the point where we as a campus are afraid of mud, that’s probably an issue that needs to be addressed in an entirely different column. If any faculty member reads this and agrees, I’m not sure if it will change the minds of those on the senior staff, but I can only hope.