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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Umbrellas: Wake Forest’s Biggest Faux Pas?

An unusual trend at Wake Forest leaves some students drenched and outsiders high and dry
Bailey Hardegree
Using an umbrella in in the rain should not be weird. That’s the whole purpose of umbrellas.

North Carolina weather can easily be compared to the mood swings of an average high schooler — unpredictable and unreliable.

But there are some things that are simply well-known. Storms roll into Winston-Salem like clockwork every summer, yet neither broadcasted storm announcements nor the natural warning signs of a deep gray sky will make a Wake Forest student carry an umbrella.

By prescribing to a wider campus trend, students have — in a way — shamed umbrellas on campus. 

On this campus, social trends often arise from the indirect pressure of fitting in. When one person kicks off an idea or behavior, it naturally trickles down and is picked up by a wider population. In a relatively small and closed campus like Wake Forest, trends are bound to spread like wildfire.

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 Whether you knew it or not, umbrellas are not cool.

“That’s weird, why are you using an umbrella?”  senior Katherine Liontis recalls thinking when spotting an umbrella last week. “Those who do use an umbrella, they’re almost like an outsider.”  

Although covering up from the rain seems like a logical choice, Wake Forest students seem too worried about standing out to stay dry, and would rather get soaked to blend in. Students like Liontis don’t deny that using an umbrella can be useful — it’s the implications that come after using one that becomes a deal breaker for most.

Senior Ian King believes that there isn’t any stigma around umbrellas on campus. But the aversion to umbrellas stems from the emphasis placed on uniformity at Wake Forest, he said, and not because of a natural dislike or inconvenience. 

“There is kind of a tendency for groupthink to be more common here than there would be at a bigger public state school,” King said.

Wake Forest is often referred to as a “bubble” within Winston-Salem — a completely different world bounded by University Parkway and Reynolda Road. But it doesn’t mean that everything that happens on campus isn’t applicable to the outside world. The trends that are seen across the student body are often representative of a universal set of behaviors. 

“I don’t think a lot of people anywhere welcome change…nobody wants to be the odd man out,” senior John Peterson said. 

Freshman Vivian Cardona agrees that, even with her short time on campus, social tendencies have already started among those new to the forest. Cardona emphasized that students are very socially aware and would rather not use something that they need to prevent feeling humiliated around campus. 

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“Before coming to Wake Forest, I didn’t really dress up as often as I do now,” said Liontis, a Winston-Salem local.

Freshmen on campus are hyper-aware of their new surroundings, careful not to stand out as they find their bearings in Winston-Salem. According to freshman Delia Hansen, “everyone was wearing the exact same outfit” during orientation — as if a dress code memo had been circulated on move-in day.

“I feel like there are some people that probably don’t use [umbrellas] really just because others don’t,” Liontis said. “I could see if we started using umbrellas people would probably be like, ‘Oh, okay, I’ll start using it, now it’s fine.’”

 Last week, King found himself in a situation that most Wake Forest students will recognize: conflicted between blending in or getting soaked.

Keeping your clothes or your reputation dry — that’s the question.

“I don’t own an umbrella,” King said. “I think the only time I’ve ever used an umbrella on Wake Forest’s campus was when I made one of my good buddies let me share an umbrella with him during that torrential downpour that occurred last week.” 

Occasionally, those brave souls who choose to stay dry are — quite possibly — secretly appreciated by the umbrella-less students.

“I feel like if there was someone with an umbrella, people would look at them a little weird but at the same time people would want to get under the umbrella,” Peterson said.

“Find your umbrella, stick out,” Peterson advised, hoping — perhaps — to start a new trend. 

Your friends will surely thank you.

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