This is the time of the year at LSU where incoming students get processed via "freshman orientation." You can see a PDF listing all the stuff they have to do here. In my experience, the people who handle this kind of thing at LSU care a lot about the students and work very hard to put together helpful programs. I do transfer advising a few times a year as part of it. The trick is to try to get incoming students' transfer credits to cover LSU Gen. Ed. requirements. It's pretty rewarding, because you're meeting people at an exciting time in their lives and the little bit of effort you expend can make a big difference to them. Plus, it's one area of services at LSU that doesn't seem to have been hit by budget cuts.
This being said, some of it is pretty irritating. A certain subset of current students, called LSU Ambassadors, help out with the process, leading tours around campus and whatnot. You can recognize them because they wear these distinctive yellow shirts and get their tour groups to do military boot camp like call and response routines relating to LSU school spirit as they walk through campus buildings. I think it's just a coincidence that they do this outside of my office over and over again. I mean, I don't think anyone in administration hates me that much.
Honestly, the school spirit chants make me a little bit ill, not just because they're loud and distracting, but also in part because they remind me so much of church camps from my youth, which were Max Weber cubed. If you didn't manifest this kind of hysterical forced gaiety no matter what you were going through, then God must have some issues with you. And if God doesn't give a spit about you, why should I? What do the LSU Ambassadors think about the people who would rather not chant along to athletic oriented cheerleader routines?
More importantly, the whole point of going to a big state university is precisely to escape that kind of nonsense. You've already read Salinger in high school and all of the forced gaiety has begun to seem deeply suspect. Then college gives you a few years try to find out who you might become. In my case, this involved smoking cigarettes in cafes and having the exact same conversations that teenage smokers have had ever since the beatniks, the existentialists, and the German Idealists before them. It was trading one work for another, but I was seventeen. What do you expect? And if the existentialists are correct, that's all we have anyhow.
I am alone in the midst of these happy, reasonable voices. All these creatures spend their time explaining, realizing happily that they agree with each other. In Heaven's name, why is it so important to think the same things all together.
Imagine trying to get everyone to chant that over and over again in unison.
And then, in lieu of "breakout sessions" such as "Meet Student Government!" and "Get to know the Greek system!" the Ambassadors would hand out free boxes of Gauloises, reproductions of vintage World War II cigarette lighters, bongo drums, and maybe even berets and striped shirts. They would have to then scream the following over the resulting smoky cacophony:
What if something were to happen? What if something suddenly started throbbing? Then they would notice it was there and they'd think their hearts were going to burst. Then what good would their dykes, bulwarks, power houses, furnaces and pile drivers be to them? It can happen any time, perhaps right now: the omens are present. For example, the father of a family might go out for a walk, and, across the street, he'll see something like a red rag, blown towards him by the wind. And when the rag has gotten close to him he'll see that it is a side of rotten meat, grimy with dust, dragging itself along by crawling, skipping, a piece of writhing flesh rolling in the gutter, spasmodically shooting out spurts of blood. Or a mother might look at her child's cheek and ask him: "What's that, a pimple?" and see the flesh puff out a little, split, open, and at the bottom of the split an eye, a laughing eye might appear. Or they might feel things gently brushing against their bodies, like the caresses of reeds to swimmers in a river. And they will realize that their clothing has become living things. And someone else might feel something scratching in his mouth. He goes to the mirror, opens his mouth: and his tongue is an enormous, live centipede, rubbing its legs together and scraping his palate. He'd like to spit it out, but the centipede is a part of him and he will have to tear it out with his own hands. And a crowd of things will appear for which people will have to find new names, stone eye, great three cornered arm, toe crutch, spider jaw. And someone might be sleeping in his comfortable bed, in his quiet, warm room, and wake up naked on a bluish earth, in a forest of rustling birch trees, rising red and white towards the sky like the smokestacks of Jouxtebouville, with big bumps half way out of the ground, hairy and bulbous like onions. And birds will fly around these birch trees and pick at them with their beaks and make them bleed. Sperm will flow slowly, gently, from these wounds, sperm mixed with blood, warm and glassy with little bubbles.
Go LSU! Whoo hoo! Woot! Woot! Ell! Ess! You! Geaux Tigers, or whatever.