By John “The Rock” Johnson, Jon Keyed-Yesbro, and Fome E. Pilsner, with research by Shmoop Shmop Smop
It’s mid-October and, in a dramatic break from previous, relatively chill generations that inhabited upperclass dorms in the past, a resounding silence echoes through the not-lively campus. This is enforced.
The past few years have been characterized by a paradigm of resignation from spaces designed to house students’ aural expression of any sorts. From the dissolved music bay last year, to the rejection of the underground parkade as a viable site of amplified performance, to the bylaws that shut down Kidz Bop’s inaugural outdoor auditory phenomenon on the North lawn last semester, the options for noise on campus are rapidly dwindling. Even the skating community has received backlash for the reverberations of the very thing that defines their vibrant counterculture.
“I’m frustrated that I don’t go to a real school where people like to have fun and make noise,” says frustrated yet resilient third year Anna Carlson-Ziegler.
“God fucking damn. I came to college to feel terrible in the morning. I’m getting way too many restful nights. Fuck, it’s Thursday night and I’m thirsty,” explains a disappointed fourth year, who prefered to remain anonymous for fear of ridicule from the aggressive and threatening pro-silence movements that plague the campus.
Needless to say, the demand for spaces that allow students to engage in a healthy level of aural expression is not met here at Quest University Canada. And it doesn’t end with the institutionalized revocation of sound spaces. This rhetoric is creeping into the way we manage our lives on a micro scale (did someone say panopticon!?).
If you listen to music, cook food with either stainless steel or cast-iron equipment, have conversations, sing or play an instrument, frequently pace, snore, have sex (or a pulmonary infection), you may be the target of some of these new surveillance regimes. Which means you may have to start asking yourself: how many times do I get reprimanded or confronted for doing things I need to do in my private spaces? Why is my self-expression no longer allowed? This, of course, begs for the definition of privacy—the normalization of silence, and whether or not a seemingly democratic community should allow despotist ideals to pass through time and space… into “your” home.
But there are some who resist…
It’s a brisk Tuesday afternoon and a group of students gather outside the residences to raise political awareness. Between them they have a 15 pack of lowbrow beer, a knife, and a plan for political action to resist what they believe is the wrong direction for Quest University Canada. A click as the knife pierces the soft aluminum body, the collective voices of a hearty toast, a crack and several harsh, loud chugs as the mutilated, empty cans come banging down onto the pavement, followed by about 5 minutes of hefty burps and heavy sighs. The silence is devastated.
Shotgunning serves a functional purpose in the movement—to raise awareness and actively resist the abrasive campuswide hush. By turning an event of comfortable and quiet relaxation, meant for traditionally private spaces and evening times as a means to an end, shotgunning has become an end in itself, disrupting both the studious norms of the afternoon and the laws of public alcohol consumption. These students aim to make this process as loud as necessary, consequently engaging in a form of consumption that necessitates student collectivity and social networking of these ideas and the required shattering of stiff silence.
“In other words, it’s fucking sick,” says one of the rather woke activists in the group, getting at the heart of the movement as a tool of resistance for students campus-wide.
The driven students are off to the library to finish the homework they so diligently put on hold to radicalize these volatile political spaces. We can only hope, as the days grow shorter and colder, that students step up to their political potential, using these brave students’ movement as motivation to fight the cruel and hegemonic forces of the shifty silent norms. Closing sentence.