During my freshman year of college, the university awoke one morning to find the grassy hill that served as the center of campus covered with several hundred pink flamingos—not the real ones, but those tacky plastic ones typically found in gaudy homes and gardens or perhaps your average trailer park. Apparently, while most of us were sleeping or studying our way through the night, some mischievous students slipped out and planted this flock of flamingos on the hillside as a joke.
As one might imagine, the campus was abuzz that morning. Where did they come from? Who was responsible? What’s the university going to do with several hundred plastic pink flamingos?
The latter question was answered sooner than the others—much sooner, really. Recognizing their potential as tasteless dorm decorations, the flamingos were plucked from their resting spots by students who hauled them back to their rooms. By noon, the flamingos were gone and the hillside was once again green. With demand outpacing supply, the flamingos quickly became a quasi-collector’s item or status symbol. Those who got them proudly displayed them in their windows, while those who didn’t lamented their lack of foresight or speed. Apparently, there’s no accounting for taste, especially among college students.
And, thanks to the snooping of those at the student newspaper, the other questions were eventually answered, too. It turns out the culprits behind the escapade were the president and vice president of the student government. Although the college was well known for its political fervor, the students did not put nearly as much effort or interest into the selection of their campus representatives. The end result was the top two student governmental positions were taken by a pair of merry pranksters. I don’t recall their names, but I do recall their works.
In addition to the flamingos—which, it was reported, were once the contents of a stolen tractor trailer—the two purchased a wooden replica of the Statue of Liberty’s head and arm. During the previous winter, they placed it on the frozen lake adjacent to campus so it looked like it was sticking out of the ground, much like one of the famous scenes from the Planet of the Apes movies, which were popular in that era. They also elected themselves president and vice president for life. Since student government meetings were so lightly attended, one put forth the proposal and the other seconded it. No one objected, so the motion was carried forward.
I’m not sure whatever happened to them. My guess is they’re either entrepreneurial geniuses or corporate criminals—maybe both.
Fortunately for Xavier, students here take the election of their student representatives a little more seriously. Last year, nearly 1,100 students voted in the student government elections, electing Steve Bentley president and Joe Moorman and Willie Byrd as his top executives. The group ran on two main issues: opening a convenience store on campus and bringing football back to Xavier.
And much to the delight of those on campus, they’ve kept their campaign promises—or at least one of them. This fall, football is being played at Xavier for the first time since 1973. Granted, it’s at the club level, far from the varsity days of old. But, still, the glory of fall football Saturdays is back.
The group hired former Villanova football player Tom Powers as its coach and is playing games against other club programs or the JV teams from local Division III programs such as the College of Mount St. Joseph or Wilmington College. The group has picked up some donations—both financial and in-kind gifts such as used equipment—to help defray the costs, and each player is going to have to pay $250 for the privilege of knocking helmets with someone. But it’s still football on campus. It’s been 30 years since organized football was last played at Xavier. And the only bad news out of all of this is the highly popular “Xavier football: Undefeated since 1973” T-shirts will have to disappear. Such is life. Maybe they, too, will become quasi-collector items or status symbols like the pink flamingos, and students can use them to decorate their dorms. Are you ready for some football?