Iconographies of the UChicago-student relationship

If you asked the admissions office how to represent the relationship between UChicago and its students, you’d probably hear some beautiful and poetic cliches involving drinking from fountains of knowledge, breathing in the sweet scent of wisdom, basking in the glow of collegiality among some of the greatest minds in the country.

If you look at the graffiti, however, there are two repeated iconographies of the UChicago-student relationship: being eaten, and anal sex.

Two of the three representations of the UofC eating students portray the school as a fish, one with rows of sharp teeth going after a brain, and another toothlessly devouring circles. A third shows UofC as Pacman, juxtaposed with a panicked cloud labeled “soul” in the first frame, and considerably expanded after eating the soul in the second frame.

I’ve only seen the being eaten iconography on the A-level (all-night study space) of the Reg. But the examples of the anal sex iconography come from two different places: the blackboard in one of the Crerar study rooms, and the study room in the Breckinridge dorm (“at least Harvard uses lubricant“).

I can’t date the Breckinridge piece more specifically than sometime before last Thursday*, but all of the other pieces come from early spring quarter– around the time procrastinating fourth-years are sweating over their BA papers while other undergrads are out enjoying the sun. Perhaps, then, the choice of imagery should come as no surprise.

* The piece probably dates from well before that, given the number of replies. That said, the graffiti there goes back a number of years, so it could still conceivably be from early spring quarter. The Breck study room is amazingly thick with graffiti, and will be the subject of an upcoming blog post. For a preview, check out the set on Flickr.

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