When I opened Facebook Monday night, after the Student Association passed a measure that would make Executive Vice President-elect Peak Sen Chua the next SA President, I was bombarded with memes. Chua’s face was edited over everyone from Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods to House of Card’s Frank Underwood. Students found comfort in these memes, which are images with creative and humorous captions, after a rough SA election was finally coming to an end. None of the memes were malicious – they were just an outlet for the student body to come together and poke fun at the unusual SA election one more time.
School spirit isn’t one of GW’s selling points. The University is well-known for its politically active student body, but falls short when it comes to camaraderie. That was until a student created the Facebook Page “GW memes for The most politically active teens” a few weeks ago and the student body rallied around the relatable posts.
This year students were shocked by the SA election scandal, which involved allegations of stalking, harassment and the disqualification of a presidential candidate. SA election memes, like the one of former SA presidential candidate Lande Watson’s face pasted onto presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s body hiking in the woods, helped us remember that at the end of the day, it’s only a student government election. Through this new Facebook page, memes have become a way to bond over the experiences we share as members of this community and show the spirit of the student body in an unconventional way. The page may not last forever, and that’s okay – it brought the student body together at a time that could’ve been divisive.
The meme group is school spirit done in a way that fits GW specifically because it’s clever and irreverent. Many students don’t get riled up over sports rivalries or big games and can barely get through the fight song without forgetting the lyrics. GW just isn’t the type of school to have traditional school spirit. But GW is still a school that’s full of qualities and quirks that make great memes. Through laughter and voicing complaints, students have used these memes to become a closer community.
Merely a few days after the group’s creation, it became the talk of campus, showing how much the community appreciates an outlet for collective grievances and jokes. When I joined the GW meme Facebook group April 1, there were about 1,000 members. As of April 19, there are 7,425 members. Most members are current students, although some are alumni, incoming freshmen and even students at other universities.
For someone who would rather go to U Street than a basketball game and loves poking fun at myself and others, the GW memes page is a perfect way to show my school spirit. I appreciate knowing that I’m not the only one who likes to roast GW in a light-hearted way. From the outside, it might seem like we all dislike the University, and for some people, that’s probably true. But, like many other students on the page, I genuinely love GW. I wouldn’t trade Kogan Plaza for an open grassy quad or the meme page for a pep rally.
This is not the first Facebook group to gain popularity within the GW community – other groups like Overheard at GW and GW Secrets have created a similar effect. But for freshmen like me, this page is the first example I’ve seen of how quickly students can rally around a concept they can actively participate in, with hundreds of memes and thousands of comments in a matter of weeks. Unlike Overheard at GW, where people share interesting observations, the GW meme page is about creating and sharing funny, relatable posts.
Social media culture changes quickly, as does the culture of GW. But no matter how long it sticks around, the meme page has gotten us through a rough SA election and a flood of Inside GW kids invading our spaces, while making us laugh along the way. Best of all, the meme page has highlighted some of the greatest qualities of the student body, like our creativity, outspoken voices and ability to laugh at ourselves. To me, there’s no better form of school spirit than that.
Matilda Kreider, a freshman double-majoring in political communication and environmental studies, is a Hatchet opinions writer.
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