When I first came to Starkville, Mississippi around this time last year, I noticed a curious trend—perky girls—obviously not athletes, often pseudo-bronzed and in full make-up—were cruising campus and downtown and all that is between (ahem, University Avenue) in gym shorts and oversized tees. Having just moved from aggressively hip Williamsburg, Brooklyn—where the only people in gym shorts are joggers, and even then, those gym shorts are vintage—I was confounded by the contradiction.
The make-up and hours basting in cancer coffins indicate that these women clearly hope to be viewed as attractive—so why the shapeless attire? If it’s sheer laziness, would they even bother with the make-up? As the days turned cooler, the trend adapted. Ug boots replaced the Tevas and sneakers, leggings appeared under the Nike Swoosh shorts, and the (often Greek-affiliated) tees were replaced with equally dumpy Northface fleeces. I suspect that students here are as interested in sex and seduction as university students anywhere, which leaves me with the alarming conclusion that we must have the most uncreative student body I’ve come across in all of my time in various college towns and at institutes of higher learning. So why doesn’t the school just help these overwhelmed students by instating Nike Swoosh shorts as the official uniform? It’s the best of both worlds—a university experience with the comforts of grammar school!
[Disclaimer: I exclude biotech students from this evaluation. Students from a public university in the poorest state of the U.S. who can beat students from stellar private universities, ahem Stanford and MIT, in designing the smartest eco-car--among other accomplishments--clearly lack nothing in the creativity department.]
One sunny afternoon in early October, I happened to be strolling campus with my camera in hand and a voice recorder in pocket, so I decided to do a little investigating. Here’s what the students said:
Laura Reed (senior, secondary education): I just bought a pair a couple of years ago. I’ve got three or four pairs now. I like to run, so…