University of Southern Mississippi
I am walking around campus. Summer is in the air. Birds are singing. The flowers are in bloom. People are laughing, play volleyball, and looking remarkably relaxed. I have an excellent meal of omelets and fruit salad, courtesy of Commons, in my stomach. And I have big plans for parties that night. Is this really USM?
Yes it is. It is USM during preview.
It would seem that preview is the result of a huge conspiracy on the part of the administration. By conversing with certain key players, they have presented a picture of USM to the previewees that is fun, happy, beautiful and spirited – and therefore fraudulent.
Let’s examine the experience of two previewees I met. The first thing they noticed, of course, was the beautiful weather and scenery. I have heard that traditionally the first nice day of the year is always during preview days, and the last Thursday was no exception. Roses were out in full force. No rain until late afternoon. It seemed the humidity was down to a comfortable level.
Clearly because the administration’s first conversation was to the Almighty himself. President Lucas used his powers office to get in touch with the Lord and said, “Listen, it’s that time of year again, and we want to cash in on all this God stuff.”
And God delivered. Sunshine, birds, roses – the works. You all thought it was just the passing of seasons. Oh, no. This was all completely planned. There was not trace of summer showers by the time the first car of parents and previewees arrived in Hattiesburg.
Then, of course, USM conversed its own bureaucracy. My preview friends were provided with excellent dining-hall meals and flexibility, something that never happens in real USM life.
Was it a coincidence that the Thursday was alive with parties, debauchery, drinking and fun? After a string of tepid or dead nights, the campus came alive for the preview. Now I doubt any of the party hosts would admit it, but I’m willing to bet that they were arranged by USM.
Even the Southern Styles, as usual, showed USM’s best face.
Of course my previewees benefited from this well. the best proof of USM’s powers of persuasion came from the experience of “Dave,” my previewer who ended a superbly productive night by throwing up in bathroom for two hours. the other previewee, “Mike,” and their host, stood guard to make sure Dave didn’t drown. After the first 20 minutes, however, the guy in the shower started to get frustrated and yelled, “Can’t you take him to another bathroom? I want to get out.” The host, annoyed, said “Listen, Dave is sick. Why don’t you just get out of the shower?” The shower man said, “OK, I warned you,” and stepped out. he was followed, five seconds later, by a young lady. Mike and the host did a double take, while Dave, who was plastered, merely thought he was hallucinating and returned to his task.
It would seem that USM is trying to make the previewees think that people actually have sex here. We Oldies know there is no sex at USM, but this farce for the previewees, along with the all the choices in the Commons, is a clear indication of USM’s desire to make the previewees think that this is a licentious place after all.
In a year with hurricanes, dollar crises, tenure denials and the decline in the local economy, this is the face we put on for the previewees. This is why the gentlemen from preview, despite their hangovers, were psyched to come here in the fall. We showed them USM at its best, as it was meant to be. And perhaps how we will all remember it years after graduation.
If only the administration could afford to keep it up year-around.