Whittier College, like any campus, is full of quirks and meme-able material, and someone has finally taken up the job of being our self-anointed meme master. On March 6, Instagram saw the first post from the handle @whittiercollegememes, and only one month later, the page has over 750 followers. At our school of 1,699 students, this has spread like wildfire! The amount of followers is equivilant to almost half the population at the College, but upon digging into who is actually following it, there are a number of Whittier alumni who are keeping up to date with the Poet gossip. Any office or club on campus can attest to students’ lack of participation toward many events and activities. But as students continue to submit memes of their own, this page continues to challenge that trend.
As a non-athlete commuter, a lot of the memes go right over my head, as many have been about the Campus Inn and the various sports teams around campus, but I have been able to have a good laugh regardless. Some include jokes about missing class, the many art installations, and grades dropping. However, I do find some of the content (like so many memes today) to be over the line, such as jokes about the disabled, parodizing the College’s treatment of minorities, and drug use. To me, this content is not vital to the page. If anything, it cheapens the light-hearted content we all relate to. Humor should not be a vehicle of ignorance or offense. While I may not agree with this type of content, it does seem to be resonating with so many students on campus that are liking the posts and engaging with the account. So we as students and the Whittier community need to delve into why that is.
The page has been mostly light-hearted, with jokes like those about the infamous Science & Learning Center elevator, and many choose to ignore the memes that may be deemed offensive or refuse to give them the attention they crave. Most choose to focus on the buzz it has created on campus, bonding so many through its content. Fourth-year Molly Lowry said, “I think it’s funny and is a way for people on campus to comment about things in a less serious way.” This is the perfect summary of what this page has done for students: allow them to complain more and laugh about it together. This page has the potential to ignite real change on campus, as so many students are listening.
Some students, on the other hand, don’t even think the account is that entertaining. Third-year Will Arnsparger said, “I think that memes are such a popularized part of our generation’s culture. I don’t think that every post is necessarily politically correct or funny, but the Whittier meme account is a very attention-grabbing thing that critiques relevant things happening around our campus.” Though this sentiment of disapproval is shared by others, they still follow the account and, in their complacency, they are supporting the content it puts out. As Arnsparger stated, memes are an important part of the culture Whittier students find ourselves in today, but we need to wonder how much of that is pure complacency over enjoyment.
Looking forward, this page can be seen as a joke — an outlet for student concerns — but we must also think about who it is run by. Is it one student or friends making these claims and igniting this fire? Rumors have spread and the page itself jokes about the possible memer, but will the student body ever know who has been supplying their newest obsession? No one knows for sure, but that doesn’t mean any students will stop speculating.