Last year NAS offered 40 Awkward Questions for College Tours for prospective students and their parents. It hasn’t quite achieved the status of the “Look at your man” Old Spice commercial (or its BYU parody) but it has its fans. We are a public service-minded organization and are eager to help students find their way on campus, so this year we focus on freshman orientation. Ready?
To play this game, you have to pick a role. The options are “The 60s Rabble Rouser,” “The Tolerance Enforcer,” “The Eco-Enthusiast,” “The Party-Don’t-Start-Till-I-Walk-In Dude/Chick” and “The I’m-Actually-Here-to-Learn Student.” Once you’ve picked your role and dressed the part, your job is to get upperclasspersons/reslife staffers/PC profs to give serious answers. Five points for every question you ask; 20 points for each time you get a real answer. First person to get 100 points gets a free copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The 60s Rabble Rouser
1. Where is the president’s office? I was really inspired by all those student protests around the country last spring. I want to help occupy the president’s office. When does that happen? Are freshmen allowed to participate?
2. What other opportunities does this college provide for mass protests? I came here to be a social activist and I’m really glad that freshman orientation is full of speeches pointing out forms of oppression we should recognize and resist.
3. What can I do to get arrested? Will I get college credit for time I spend in the slammer? My friend got academic credit for campaigning for Obama. But there is no presidential election this year. What are some other ways I can get credit for promoting progressive causes?
4. I’d like to demonstrate my support for __________________ (Hamas/undocumented immigrants/AIDS/ fill in the blank). Is it ok if I walk around naked for a week?
5. Hey, this college says it expects us to be citizens of the world and I am. So what’s the deal with the college flying a U.S. flag? Can we burn it as part of orientation?
6. The orientation includes remarks by some clergy. I guess that is ok if they are gay, but what if they are not? I find it offensive that this college says it is committed to intellectual freedom and lets bigots like that speak at freshman orientation. Can we put a stop to it?
7. I’d like to exhibit a piece of my artwork as a protest of the savagery of meat-eating. The art piece includes dead animals; is that ok?
8. Where will I put my medical marijuana plants?
The Tolerance Enforcer
9. Do you have a bias reporting system? Are there rewards for turning in bigots? How can I get started? Where I should I look to find the most biased students?
10. I’d like to get the goods on some bigoted organizations. You know, infiltrate them and then publicize the creepy things they do. Which groups should I target? Young Republicans? Campus Crusade? Hillel?
11. Has our college spoken out against Arizona’s immigration law yet? Lady Gaga has! I hope we boycott. I came here because this school is committed to diversity. How can we be committed to diversity and allow Arizona to have its own immigration laws?
12. I heard there is a professor here who says bad things about ______________________ (Islam/gay marriage/affirmative action/Obama/fill in the blank). What steps can we as students take to get this guy removed from the classroom?
13. I heard about this fantastic values orientation program at the University of Delaware. Do we have anything like it here?
14. Does the school display religious symbols? Like a Christmas tree? I don’t want anyone imposing their religion on me.
15. Do I really have to room with someone of the same sex? Gender is socially constructed anyway, right?
16. My roommate is a bigot. He/she said right away that he/she won’t share our room with the homeless. Two questions: Where should I send my roommate for counseling? And how can I find a homeless person?
17. I’d like to start a zero-impact club. You know: no soap, no toilet paper, no hot water. I’ve been trying to sniff out possible members. Do you know anyone who might be interested?
18. Where can I compost my trash? I brought my own worms.
19. Do you offer special parking rates for my hybrid? I hope I do not have to pay the same fee for my car as someone whose vehicle is polluting our beloved planet to a greater extent than mine.
20. Does the college sell carbon offsets to compensate for my car? I make sure to account for all of my pollution on a daily basis.
21. What is the university’s overall carbon footprint? How does that compare with other schools?
22. Are there classes on Earth Day? That is the holiest day of the year, after all.
24. Have you heard of “Climategate”? That’s the effort by climate change deniers to discredit AGW. What is the college doing to defend true science and to put the deniers in their place?
The Party-Don’t-Start-Till-I-Walk-In Dude/Chick
25. Which fraternities have the biggest parties? Where can I go to get totally trashed and hook up?
26. What’s up with this? I just read that Princeton Review rated the University of Georgia as the number one party school. What can we do to bring up our score?
27. When is sex week? How does it differ from every other week?
28. Do the dorms supply free condoms?
The I’m-Actually-Here-to-Learn Student
29. What was the most important book that you read last year? What was so good about it? Is there one sentence that was really memorable?
30. I picked up ______________ [Atlas Shrugged/The Road to Serfdom/ Charlotte’s Web; fill in the blank] this summer and I couldn’t put it down. I’d love to study that book under an accomplished faculty member. Whose course should I sign up for?
31. The assigned summer reading for my freshman class was Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. It was interesting but was definitely selling a political point of view. Are we going to read another book with a contrasting perspective?
32. A recent study showed that college students study for about 14 hours per week – way down from years past. How long do you study each week? How much do you think other students do? Would you like to study more? What gets in the way of studying?
33. There are some pretty famous professors here. Can you tell me about some of their research?
34. I’ve seen that employers are concerned about the writing ability of college graduates. I write pretty well but I know there is room for improvement. Who are the best writing teachers? Also, I want to make sure my grades are a true measure of how well I write, and I want to avoid the easy graders. Who should I steer clear of? (Or is that “of whom should I steer clear?”)
35. I’ve been thinking of taking some business classes, but I don’t want to end up studying under someone who is all theory and no practice. How many business professors here have ten or more years experience as business executives? If they were successful in business, why are they now teaching?
36. How much did you spend on textbooks last semester? Were they worth the money? Did you keep any of them? Is that because you couldn’t sell them back or because you thought the book was something you would like to revisit?
37. I am borrowing a lot of money to come here and I need to cover some of my expenses. Is it OK if I __________________
- Run my escort service out of my dorm room?
- Continue my job as campus rep for Ghostpapers.com?
- Keep up my work as retail distributor for a small pharmaceutical firm? (You haven’t heard of it; it is really small.)
- Collect appropriate fees from other students for helping keep their private information really private?
38. Who is the president of this college? What did he do before he was president? What does he do now?
39. I’m a big fan of ___________________ (Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck/Andrew Breitbart/Ann Coulter/fill in the blank). Who do I talk to about bringing her/him to campus to speak?
40. What will you do after you graduate?
Let us know how it goes! We will publish accounts of the best Freshmen Orientations of 2010.