Published in Conn’s The College Voice on October 24, 2011:
“There is a collection of generally attractive females at every [NESCAC] school who, when introduced to alcohol, gravitate immediately towards members of that school’s lacrosse team. This is a widely accepted and celebrated phenomena [sic].” So reads the definition for “Laxtitutes” on the website In the ’Cac.
’Cac’s purpose, according to the website’s mission statement, is to “repost notable news from the eleven schools in the NESCAC on a daily basis, and generate original content relevant to the “’Cac lifestyle.” The blog portion of the website displays new posts from representatives from all NESCAC schools, but a drop-down option called’ “’Cac-egories” allows website users to streamline the feed to view specific schools, or categories like “Culture” and “Lifestyle.”
Another major component of the website is “The ’Cactionary,” a comprehensive list of slang terms from all eleven NESCAC schools. Definitions range from funny and truthful to cringe-worthy (see above). Most of the appeal of The ’Cactionary, it seems, is the way we, as Conn students, can relate to the listed terms. (Go to the website and look up the definitions for “AC Walk,” “Cro Dance” and “KB Tunnel,” and you’ll understand). We see these terms and feel a little bit famous, despite the knowledge that they must have been written by Conn students.
The representation is somewhat mysterious; writers go only by pseudonyms, there are no personal signoffs and it seems like part of the appeal of the website is the relative anonymity with which these writers can post about their schools. Conn’s ’Cac representative (or at least our most prolific blogger) posts under the name “Mcshaq.” He is presumably male, judging from the content of his posts, “a junior at Conn college, Baltimore native, summers in Chatham,” and his avatar is Ham from “The Sandlot” (sorry if I’m embarrassing you, Mcshaq). He offers invaluable advice such as, “If you choose to hipster [sic], do it sort of…over there. Where I can’t see you. Because if I do, and it’s after 8 PM, chances are good my friends and I will be sauced and chances are good we’ll yell at you.” He goes on to offer little gems about his own style: “I should also probably explain that my personal taste is mostly preppy, but that I also dabble fairly heavily in California swag and surf shit.” Mcshaq also asserts, “There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a cute girl walking with her hot mom, and watching her mom check you out before she does.”
During my first week here, I was talking to an upperclassman who said something to the effect of, “Conn loves to talk about Conn.” And why wouldn’t we? There’s a lot to celebrate that is neglected by In the ’Cac in favor of celebrating drinking. There are the here-and-there “culture” posts but, for the most part, In the ’Cac is so one-sided it almost hurts. There’s nothing offensive, but there’s also nothing all that riveting. The humor is novel at first, but tends to miss the mark more often than not. In a recent post, the creator of In the ’Cac acknowledged this tendency surprisingly candidly: “Not everyone likes the blog…I’ve had a classmate write, ‘Initiatives like this make me embarrassed to be a student at a NESCAC school, and do not accurately depict the ideology of NESCAC students. These failed attempts at humor and unoriginal social commentary are unsolicited by the NESCAC members.’”
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that In the ’Cac makes me embarrassed to be a student at a NESCAC school, but the site could use improvement. One of its motives is to produce a sense of unity and belonging among students at NESCAC schools, which is a worthwhile initiative. Sure, it’s a place for YouTube videos, NESCAC sports updates and posts like Mcshaq’s, but it also theoretically bridges the gaps between the eleven schools in an attempt to transform the NESCAC from an athletic conference to a celebration of “a lifestyle.” My college experience is limited to Conn, but the NESCAC seems undeniably diverse—Wesleyan isn’t Colby, Tufts isn’t Trinity, we aren’t Bates…you get the idea. In the ’Cac should promote these differences instead of grasping at straws with sections like “Stuff NESCAC Students Like.”
In the ’Cac requires three writing samples, a resume and a description of “the most creative way you have ever used a Solo cup” in fielding applications for writers. If you’re into writing, send in an application and contribute to In the ’Cac. Help give the website the voice of the diverse student body I see at Conn every day. “