UVSC What I Mean?

Utah Valley State College needs to stop wondering why people make fun of it and why no one takes it seriously. UVSC needs to locate reality, possibly by employing the services of a sleuth, and then gain a hard, firm grip on it.

No one hates UVSC, of course, except maybe the cops who work there, who evidently hate everyone and have been known to put people in jail overnight merely for existing. People just kind of pat UVSC on the head and smile condescendingly, and occasionally roll their eyes when something particularly weird happens there.

As Exhibit A, I cite the Sept. 6 student council-sponsored True Wolverine event. According to UVSC lore (and it’s only been a couple years since UVSC was granted permission by the board of regents to have lore), one becomes a True Wolverine by undergoing DNA-altering laboratory work that results in the individual becoming, quote, a heavy, short-legged, bearlike mammal related to the weasel whose long, dark-brown, frost-proof fur is prized by Eskimos as trim for hoods and cuffs.

No, actually, I got that from Encyclopedia.com. At UVSC, one becomes a True Wolverine by attending the event on Sept. 6 and kissing a random stranger.

This was an actual event, as reported by Megan Carlson for UVSC’s College Times in a Sept. 7 article. (Bear in mind that since many of these facts are coming from the campus newspaper, there is every chance that some of them are wrong, or at least misspelled.)

The deal here was that people went to a designated spot on campus in the evening and then found someone to kiss, generally by asking politely until someone obliged. Once that kiss was accomplished, both parties could call themselves True Wolverines, which must be quite an honor indeed, considering the heroic tasks one must perform in order to achieve it.

From the article: “Utah Valley State College hosted their [many newspapers would have said its, but I’m glad the College Times took the high road in the raging debate over noun-pronoun agreement] first True Wolverine last night in the new ‘Tunnel of Love’ [an area under College Drive, we learn in a separate news story in the same issue].”

We are told the romantic tale of freshmen Amber Dyer and Jason Russon, who had never met until this fateful fall evening. Once the first kiss took place, many more followed, reports the College Times.

“‘We made out in a tree, and this old guy sat and watched us,’ explained Dyer. ‘We talked too — we didn’t just kiss.'”

The article does not mention whether the old guy was involved in the conversation.

“We made out in a tree, and this old guy sat and watched us” is one of the most wonderful quotes I have ever read in a newspaper story. I have registered a Web site called www.wemadeoutinatreeandthisoldguysatandwatchedus.com, as a monument to the marvelous absurdity contained in that statement. I want it emblazoned on T-shirts, billboards and stained-glass windows across America.

But I digress. Dyer and Russon each had a friend at the event, and those friends — Katie Larsen and Christian Robinson — wound up making out, too.

“They should have these things every weekend” is what Katie is quoted as saying. Also: “This is why I went to UVSC instead of BYU — so I can participate in fun traditions like this.” (I’m guessing her rejection letter from BYU was also a factor.)

The article says Amber and Jason, who made out in a tree while an old guy sat and watched them, plan to continue their relationship, which is obviously based on mutual trust, respect, and a fondness for making out in trees while old guys sit and watch them. For Katie and the ironically named Christian, however, it was a one-time fling: Katie already has a boyfriend, and Christian has a girlfriend.

But all was not peaches and cream at the True Wolverine event. As reported in the article, “With so many people wanting to make out, it was hard to avoid the one’s [again, many newspapers would say “ones,” but I am glad the College Times has recognized the underuse of apostrophes in today’s society and decided to sprinkle them liberally throughout its — I mean, their — stories] you did not want to kiss.

“Freshman Ashley Garbe, for example, kept getting asked by a bunch of freaky guys. Finally, one Jake Anderson came to (her) rescue.”

And then there’s the happy tale of Katie Coles, a junior, who was supposed to just help oversee the event, but who wound up taking part. Listen as she recounts her romantic story, as quoted in the article:

“He … said, ‘I’m not taking no for an answer.’ Then he took my hand, drug me in the tunnel, and kissed me. I never liked kissing so much until tonight.”

It is sweet when a young man can take the bold steps necessary to force a young woman to kiss him. It is equally sweet when class-B misdemeanor assault results in the young woman enjoying the experience. What a happy message to send to all the men in the world: If you see something you want, don’t take no for an answer! Just go out and GET IT! The woman will probably wind up enjoying herself!

I’m not saying that stupid things don’t happen at BYU, because of course they do. (I should know; I’ve been personally responsible for several of them.) But at least BYU KNOWS it’s a peculiar place, and doesn’t wonder why people look at it funny. UVSC should realize the same thing about itself. Or themself. Or theirselves. Or whatever.

This column is longer than usual for The Daily Herald, though it's almost exactly the same length as the columns for The Daily Universe used to be. So those of you who have been complaining the columns were better when they were longer, here you go.

The reason for the extra length is simply that there was too much story to tell. I even cut a few things that I would have liked to make fun of, and some things I didn't even write because there was just no way to squeeze them in and still retain some semblance of a train of thought. (Like the fact that the last girl quoted says the guy "drug" her into the tunnel, instead of "dragged." You know me; I could go on about that for days.)

An explanation of the UVSC cop joke: About a week before this column was published, a UVSC student altered his temporary parking pass so that it allowed him an extra day. He was caught at this, and his car was booted for being illegally parked. He paid the fine for the altered pass and the booting, then located a parking officer to remove the boot. The parking guy took off the boot, and then asked for the altered parking pass. The student didn't see why he should have to give it up; after all, it was altered, expired, and no good to anyone. Why not be able to keep it for his scrapbook? The parking officer said he would put the boot back on the car, to which the student responded, "Try it," and then stepped in front of the wheel when the officer tried it.

That's when the parking guy called a UVSC campus police officer, who also tried to get the student to relinquish the parking pass. Asked on what grounds he should have to give it up, the cop said: "Because I said so." The student found this answer unsatisfactory (I do not blame him; it is not a legitimate response from a cop), and so ripped up the parking pass and THEN gave it to the cop. The cop put him in Utah County Jail overnight on charges of evidence-tampering, disorderly conduct and failure to comply. (Those charges were all dropped, and the student -- whose mother is a lawyer -- threatened a civil suit against UVSC.)

Obviously, the student was being a little stubborn and ornery. But I'd say the cop, who should have been the most level-headed one there, was more obnoxious, and definitely overstepped his bounds in arresting the guy, for crying out loud. (The student had a pregnant wife at home who didn't take well to her husband being in county lock-up overnight.)

This column was about the most fact-checkiest thing I'd written in quite a while. First I had to know about that whole UVSC cop thing. Then I had to find out exactly what the board of regents was (I still don't know exactly, but I know I referred to it in the right context). Then I had to find out what sort of crime it would be to drag a girl into a tunnel and kiss her. My friend Mike "Mike the Sound Guy" Masse, a BYU law-school graduate, looked it up and found that it would probably be a class-B misdemeanor assault (according to Utah Criminal Code 76-5-102).

Actually, in the first place, I had to have a copy of the UVSC newspaper article, which my friend Dave (a UVSC student) brought to my attention. I'm glad he did, as it gave rise not just to this column, but to an entire new Web site: www.wemadeoutinatreeandthisoldguysatandwatchedus.com, at which you can read the UVSC newspaper article in full, as well as some other delightful things.

By the way: "sleuth" and "lore" are two of my favorite words.

OK, then. The official reaction from UVSC's College Times was that they thought it was funny (though I'm sure that feeling was not unanimous). The report to me was that the adviser photocopied it and handed it out at the next staff meeting. The writer of the article, Megan Carlson, e-mailed me and thanked me for the criticism, as she feels it will help her be a better writer. (I couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not, so I didn't know how to respond.)

I got two phone calls in response to the column, one of which I was able to transcribe because it was just a voice mail message. It was from an old woman, who was probably referring to the column's headline, "UVSC needs to get over theirselves."

You don't need to call me back, but you do need to know that you should check your own writing before you make fun of others'. As you probably don't know, there's no such word as "theirselves."

There is no end to the delight that message caused me, first because she obviously missed the joke, and second because it's not the writers who compose headlines, but the copy editors.

The other call was from a younger woman who sounded very angry and said, "Before you make fun of UVSC, you should make fun of BYU, because that's where all the real hypocrites are." I told her that I had spent two years making fun of BYU, and had about 60 columns to prove it. That seemed to pacify her, though she still seemed really angry about something.