Way to Celebrate, UCI

Quick everyone, smile and look happy! New students are coming and we need to look like we actually enjoy it here.

That’s the unsaid rule of every Celebrate UCI. Regardless of whether or not you’re in administrative or extracurricular activities, when you come to Celebrate, you know what’s expected of you. Student staff who guide tours or sit on panels are warned about certain taboo topics which they’re not supposed to talk about.
Clubs bring out the big guns, making new flashy and fun-looking cardboard cutouts so visitors think that they are super active on campus. ASUCI books different entertainment groups to perform throughout the day in Aldrich Park so there’s never a quiet minute. Everyone does their best to make it look like we’re the best.
But is it all a lie?
The easiest answer is, yes. UC Irvine isn’t like Celebrate at all. The campus is never that active except for Welcome Week. Clubs are usually quiet over the quarter, only having about one event every other week, and overall the campus is actually quite subdued. We create an alternate persona for our University so potential freshmen and parents feel comfortable becoming a part of this campus, but everything we do for them is extremely orchestrated.
Yet I don’t think that it’s fair to say that everything we do at Celebrate is a complete lie. The real unsaid purpose of Celebrate, in my opinion, is to show just how much we love this campus. I mean, why would we try to make this campus look so great if we didn’t love it? Why exhaust ourselves to put on this whole charade? We put on a smile and muster up all that energy because we know that the campus and community are worth it. I think we can all agree that our campus doesn’t offer the stereotypical televised college experience.
If we had Celebrate on a random day in the year, visiting freshmen would probably be disappointed in what they saw. But we make Celebrate what it is because we know just how great our school is, and we want the freshmen to know that. Even if we have to lie about it..
And that’s essentially what Celebrate UCI is. It’s a giant white lie. We’re telling the visiting families only what they need to know, and not what they want to know. They want to know how many students are commuters. We tell them that it depends on your definition of “commuter.” They ask how active the clubs and organizations on campus are, and we tell them that “with over 600 clubs on campus, there’s always something going on somewhere.” We don’t tell them that you need to join at least 3 for there to be an event on your calendar every week. “Are there parties in the halls?” Well, no, none that have been reported (keyword here being “reported”). Technically we’re telling everyone the truth … just not the whole truth.
Yet as I said earlier, this lie is done out of a deep appreciation for what UCI is. I don’t know if you realize, but Celebrate is run mainly by students. For the most part, the students are the ones who run around and do most of the work. The students interact with the families and visitors who are interested in UCI. We are the ones who do the talking, and Celebrate is run through our blood, sweat and tears.
So even though what we put on may be a farce, even though we tell this rather large white lie, and even though we smile when we would rather be sleeping, the love for this school is real, and it is that exact passion for our university that visitors see when they walk onto campus for Celebrate.
They don’t just see a bunch of activities and entertainment — they see thousands of students pouring out their love and dedication for their university by volunteering their weekend to sell UC Irvine as the school everyone should pick. Yes, Celebrate’s a lie, but the spirit behind it isn’t.

Alec Snavely is a fourth year electrical engineering and English double major. He can be contacted at asnavely@uci.edu.