Secret to building NU community: random fun acts (McPherson, column)

Kimra McPherson

When I set foot on campus Feb. 13, I figured it would be just another Northwestern day.

Sure, it was Friday the 13th, and it was the day before Valentine’s Day. But it’s common knowledge that NU students hibernate during the winter — holing up in their rooms even more than usual. I wasn’t expecting much.

Then I saw Lloyd Dobbler at The Rock.

He was perched on the wall, standing in that most famous “Say Anything” pose: boombox hoisted high, trench coat billowing, strains of “In Your Eyes” filling the air.

I stopped, stared and giggled. And then I became aware that other students were stopping, staring and giggling, too. I accepted the flier I was handed promoting the next day’s showing of the movie — a far cry from the eyes-down, hands-in-pockets shuffle I tend to employ when people try to hand me things. Others were doing the same.

“People weren’t ignoring it and people weren’t just dismissing it,” said Keith Tanner, the Weinberg senior who dressed as Dobbler. “I was getting looks and thumbs-up.”

Standing in the February sunshine, listening to students around me talk and chuckle, I felt as though NU was on the cusp of achieving the sacred C-word: community.

I’ve heard the refrain more times than I can count: NU needs a stronger community. We’ve formed task forces to study community. Student groups have held meetings about building community. Even the administration has talked at length about helping students foster community.

I posit this: NU would be a stronger community if people would do more random things.

It wasn’t just Dobbler. No, that day, students were in rare form. Dozens of people walked around campus with balloon bouquets from Norris University Center’s Fast Break Friday bobbing in the wind. Near The Rock several female students wearing cardboard wings passed out condoms.

And Louis Levine and Eric Asboe dressed as a box of candy and Cupid — a lacy red heart outfit for Asboe and white briefs and a bow and arrow for Levine. The pair had dressed up as a candy cane and a gift in December and wanted to continue the tradition.

“We just kind of wanted to spread Valentine’s Day love and cheer to everyone on campus,” said Asboe, a Weinberg junior. Some people didn’t know what to make of the display, he said, but most smiled and laughed.

The most amazing thing was, people were —