The oft-ignored voices of Santa Clara’s campus community make room for themselves online
The Santa Clara
April 18, 2019
Memes are like mirrors. The vaseline-covered ones glitz you up, the funhouse types make you look like a monster and the normal ones tell it like it is.
But, if Santa Clara’s meme pages were mirrors, they’d be of the supernatural kind, exposing and reflecting some much-needed truths right back at their subject—the school itself.
The pages in question—the good-natured @memesscu, the darker @scu.memes and the meta @spicy_memes_for_jesuit_tweens. All offer quick chuckles we expect from the medium, but more importantly they serve to shed light on real student frustrations.
Take @memesscu, for example. By far the most established Santa Clara meme page (although @scu.memes seems eager to swipe that title), @ memesscu features a sizeable chunk of posts dedicated to the universal struggles of the college experience.
In one post, a screengrab from a wikiHow article depicts a gloomy, hospital bed-bound individual under a heading that reads “Part 1 of 3: Accepting your death.” Above this image, @memesscu added the caption, “Me after an emotionally scarring finals season.”
The extremity of the interpretation—along with the inherently awkward wikiHow image—likely sparks some sort of chortle. And while on the surface the post appears as nothing more than a joke, it ultimately provides a valuable record of the chronic fatigue today’s students carry on their backs and in their minds.
However, the generic college posts aren’t what makes the Santa Clara meme pages truly sizzle. The school-specific content drives the enterprise, and here @memesscu particularly excels.
One shining example features a boy, cowering in the corner of a room with one arm outstretched to defend himself and another clutching a wooden cross. The caption reads “When you see a rat run by in Benson.”
This sterling example of a Santa Clara meme has it all: a timely reference to a schoolwide concern (the persnickety rodents in our dining hall), the existential dread of college life and, of course, Jesuit values. Most importantly, it elicits a chuckle and keeps you away from the horrors of your homework for a few extra seconds. Mission accomplished.
But @memesscu isn’t the only meme page available for our school to enjoy; @scu.memes provides some essential variety with its more-pointed criticisms.
One @scu.memes gem features an image of Elmo—labeled “SCU”—making the tough choice between fruits and vegetables, “Being accessible to underprivileged people” and a “Scarface”-worthy heap of what can only be cocaine—“money.” Like a child out on their first snow day, Elmo buries his head in the white powder.
This meme—like @memescu’s rat post—gains its gravitas by pointing out the absurdities and hypocrisies that stem from managing institutions that decide who receives access to higher education and also oversees facilities where people eat, sleep, work and study.
We often feel powerless in the face of such bureaucracy, but these memes—especially those about Benson (by far the most popular Santa Clara meme subject)—help us feel a little less alone in our grievances.
They provide another outlet to voice student opinions beyond the endof-the-quarter evaluation that you never have enough time to properly complete.
And, of course, if social messages aren’t your preferred flavor of Santa Clara meme, the up-and-coming @spicy_memes_for_jesuit_tweens takes the entertainment value and critical stances of its predecessors and fixates on Santa Clara meme culture itself.
Beyond commenting on the memes frequent fixation on the controversial quality of Benson in a hilarious post that lists “reasonably priced food from Benson” as a “favorite fantasy creature,” this page conveniently sorts the Santa Clara meme pages—and the school itself—on an ideological spectrum chart. Read it and find out which page works for you.
While @rocketsgowee—a frequent Santa Clara meme-page commenter—argued that “Memeing does literally nothing” on a February 21 @memesscu post, the comment ignores the social good brought about by the memes’ public complaints about the school.
Not only do these memes draw necessary attention to quirks and hypocrisies at Santa Clara, they help foster a sense of community by letting students know they’re not alone in recognizing these problems.
Now it’s time for the operators of @memesscu, @scu.memes and @spicy_memes_for_jesuit_tweens to embrace their niche personalities and do what they do best: point out absurdity through memes; the 21st century’s defining art form.
It is frequently the case that campus members feel their voices and opinions are overlooked by the administration. It’s not only the students. Faculty, staff and students alike feel frequently disenfranchised on campus.
That’s where these digital vigilantes come in. It seems the theory is to embarrass until you see results. Let’s hope it works.
Contact Brandon Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.