In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, The Argus will feature personal essays on how life has change in strange, scary, or surprising ways. If you have a hot take, a serious reflection, a funny anecdote, or anything in between, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although I have forgotten many parts of my WesFest experience, I have a distinct memory of my host and their friends telling me I should try and make it to the 12 p.m. campus tour. I remember asking why and being met with something along the lines of, “Oh, no reason. It’s just a good tour.”
I didn’t think much of it and in fact blew it off, figuring that I had already seen as much of campus as I needed to. Later, I saw on social media what I had missed. But, having just committed, I knew that would not be my last chance to be a part of one of Wesleyan’s most beloved traditions.
When April of last year—my freshman spring—came around, I was well prepared and excited. I had the honor of having a prefrosh and, just as my host had, insisted that she needed to go on the 12 p.m. tour. The minutes leading up to the tour’s arrival were entertaining, as I surveyed the scene of all of us gathered in our best undergarments. When the tour entered, I got a glimpse of my prefrosh and her family. They, like most of the students on the tour, were amused. While there were some expressions of concern and possibly disgust, I could see countless admitted students smiling, as if to say, “This is the place I want to be.”
But this year, that will not happen. Undies in Olin joins the laundry list of events that will not be taking place due to COVID-19. While I know that the global impact of the pandemic, as well as the University transition to remote learning and postponement of graduation, are by far more devastating, the temporary loss of this tradition is also upsetting.
I’m not upset for myself; I have another Undies in Olin in my future. But I feel for the seniors, who won’t get to experience it one last time. I feel for the senior tour guides, who have been waiting years to lead the desired 12 p.m. tour. And I feel for those who are admitted to the class of 2024, who will not have the chance to experience first hand the shock of Undies in Olin, either in person or through social media.
While the Office of Admission is doing an amazing job trying to provide necessary information online, which also increases accessibility for students who might not be able to attend WesFest in person in the first place, this is one thing that cannot be recreated in the same way. Prospective students must come to understand Wes’ weirdness through college confidential, the Wesleying archives, and that one article in The New York Times about our “nudist dorms.” While these are all valid ways to learn about what makes Wes “Wes,” it is not the same. Nothing quite epitomizes Wesleyan’s weirdness like hundreds of semi-naked bodies packed into a library.
For any admitted students that may be reading this: I’m sorry that this year you won’t be able to experience this wonderful tradition and get a sense of Wes in the flesh (pun intended). But know that Wesleyan is weird, and if you’re OK with what you’ve heard so far, you will love it here.
And as for current students: I’m at a loss. The idea of hundreds of half naked bodies on Zoom just doesn’t feel genuine, or quite frankly, legal. But knowing Wes students, people will find some way to recreate this iconic event, and I can’t wait to see that happen.
And class of 2025, boy will you have something to look forward to.
Hannah Docter-Loeb can be reached at email@example.com.