Wake Forest: not Victorian child-friendly

Staff writer Emily Bebenek explains five things that would send a Victorian child into a coma


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A 1903 painting depicts a Victorian child.

Emily Bebenek, Staff Writer

We all know that even on its best day, Wake Forest is a lot. Most of us average one mental breakdown per semester and are seasonally felled by the freshman plague. But despite our weaknesses, we are still strong. We have come far — farther than our ancestors could have dreamed. So in that spirit, here are some things about Wake Forest that I think would send a Victorian child into a coma.

1: Women’s Center

This one is the most obvious. If you introduce James Charles Henry Watson III to the idea of a women’s center, he would assume you are politely referencing a brothel. Once you fully explain it to him, he would have an aneurysm faster than you can say “women are not incubators.” Not only are women actually allowed at such an established institution, but they are welcomed and embraced to such an extent that they have their own office. What has the world come to? 

2: Wellbeing Center

Equally scandalous is the idea of a Wellbeing Center. Not only have you traded the time-honored tradition of child labor for the occasional weight-lifting (and with no purpose other than to lift the weight up and down, like a child with their blocks), but there is also an entire week dedicated to sexual education. Sex should be taboo in a polite, civilized society (unlike the savage, brutal wastelands beyond the British Empire), James Charles Henry Watson III tells you. In addition, the only reason for it is to procreate and populate the world with as many little laborers as possible, or until you have enough boys. Why would you ever take measures against that? 

3. Poteat Fire Alarms

Poteat Residence Hall is pictured in 2021. (Katie Fox)

As a resident of Poteat, I myself am nearly driven insane every time the blaring klaxon ruins my peaceful day, followed by the oddly calm, “May I have your attention. May I have your attention please. An emergency has been discovered in the building. You are instructed to remain calm and orderly and proceed to the nearest exit. Look for the nearest exit sign and proceed to leave the building.” (And please take note of how ridiculous it is that I have the entire thing memorized from how frequently it occurs.) 

Having to wait nearly half an hour for the mind-numbing chant to turn off is a mental exercise for even the strongest of us, so James Charles Henry Watson III is basically screwed. You would have to drag his limp body down the stairs and into the courtyard and explain to the firefighters that no, he is not injured, just traumatized. But why should he get free therapy for that? We certainly don’t.

4: ZSR First Floor

The dim lighting. The clustered shelves. The lingering silence. The fear that something is lurking just out of sight. For us, it’s just another day on the first floor of ZSR. For James Charles Henry Watson III, it’s a living nightmare. As someone who undoubtedly believes in ghosts and spirits, every single step is trembling and terrified. And being surrounded by suffering young adults is prime breeding ground for some vengeful spirit to unleash its wrath.

The problem is that everyone but James Charles Henry Watson III is too busy working to even lift their head despite being there for hours. In fact, some might say that a crazy ghost would be a welcome distraction from the overwhelming workload characteristic of the Forest. (But you didn’t hear it from me.) So with a precocious child as the only viable target, it’s going to be a very bad day for James Charles Henry Watson III.

5: Wait Chapel Lights

Wait Chapel is lit up in red. (Courtesy of Wake Forest)

It’s nearly midnight, and as you attempt to shoo James Charles Henry Watson III away from you, he happens to glance up, only to see the giant red lights illuminating the holiest place on campus — the chapel. The devil has grown too powerful to be able to shed his evil light on a church. As you watch, torn between shock, horror and amusement, James Charles Henry Watson III collapses on the brick and begs you to fetch a bottle of whiskey to cure him. When you tell him that he is 10 years under the drinking age and that whiskey never cured anything anyway, he lets out a pitiful gasp and begs you to lean down to hear his final words. Unfortunately, James Charles Henry Watson III’s final words are swallowed by the bass of a passing pledge driver. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this chaotic journey as much as I enjoyed reminiscing on Wake Forest’s slights against Victorian children. Writing this article was a welcome reminder that although I may not have survived a Roman invasion or living in a hut in the woods, none of those suckers would be able to survive our world either (especially with all the global warming, advanced weapon technology, gun violence, etc.). So, chins up, (unless you’re studying, in which case, chins down) and carry on!