Defining happiness differently at Tech

Two weeks before spring break generally means a nonstop succession of tests, quizzes, essays and all other assignments painful and depressing to the average Tech student. With dreams of glistening Fla. beaches or the unlimited hours of the new Final Fantasy XIII game play, spring break stands as a shining Valhalla of college student emancipation from the interminable months of Calculus problems and lab reports. After all, Tech is, as some may call it, “where fun goes to die.”

Yes, Tech students may find their own comfort in the face of high stress levels, whether it is a relaxing past time like baking or a more on-edge one that may or may not be illegal. The stress outlet that may not exactly be the first one to pop in one’s head is Tech itself. When has one ever fought fire with fire anyway?

Such was my reaction when I first walked groggily and half awake through Tech Square on Monday morning at 7:55 a.m. to my 8 a.m. finance class in the College of Management (mind you, I live all the way on the west side of campus where it is cold and far to walk from). Stumbling past the strange early morning smells of bacon wafting around Tin Drum, my eyes were a tad startled to see an electric blue chalk stenciling of the words “I Love GT” across the pavement the entire walk to class. Upon recognizing that the stenciling was an effort on the university and a number of student organizations to increase the morale of Tech students through a week’s worth of events, I laughed. What does it say about our school when we need to remind ourselves to like our school? Believe it or not, the first two lines of I Love Week’s Facebook event description reads “This March 8th-12th Remember Why you LOVE Georgia Tech!”

This critique is said not to insult any of the other organizing parties. Rather, it’s incredibly admirable that the governing bodies at our school care about its student body enough to attempt to instill pride and increase satisfaction in their alma mater. As an average Tech student, I also enjoy my fair share of free food and other goodies. However, how humorous is it when we have to not only remind ourselves through a week’s worth of events, free t-shirts and stickers, but also finance such events with our own funds? When has any Tech student expressed excitement or ecstasy about a library archive tour? (Though on my part, I can attest that the library archives are pretty interesting).

If the goal of the organizing parties is to increase morale at Tech, shouldn’t they attack student discontent at its root? The average Tech student is not unhappy or dissatisfied because they are not receiving enough free doughnuts and T-shirts, nor does the thought “Man, I could really use a flash mob right now,” ever frequently appear in one’s head. Rather, the average Tech student worries about the passing huge physics test they have coming up or the possibility of not being able to pay for next year’s tuition. I’m sure a resolution to those problems would make students much more satisfied with their university than a flash mob performance that everyone knows about.

I Love GT Week does prove the power that these organizations have at reaching to its students though. The bombardment of bright colored chalk drawings, free shirts and stickers only proves the broad effect SGA and Student Foundation has in mobilizing its students. But why not use the money and the resources for something productive? 800 students acting together to fight against budget reductions at the capitol goes much further than 800 students wearing cute stickers that expounds on a meaningless love.

Fundamentally, Tech students are built to suffer to a certain extent. It’s simply our purpose to work hard for our education, through whining and complaining. After all, there is a kinship between alumni who sit together and regale with pride as to how they “got out” of the Institute. In some cases, we are even masochists, since most of the time we are the enactors of our own misery. We, in any case, choose our schedules and our activities (whether it be dedicating countless hours to World of Warcraft or the Technique), and as much as we kick ourselves about our involvement afterwards. However, we do it to ourselves nonetheless.

Truly, suffering could be an unspoken tradition. We grow together as a community by commiserating about the tough test, and then by celebrating with those companions afterwards. We create our own happiness and we don’t need reminders.