Last Monday I spent two hours outside of the Oakland Center making balloon animals for any students willing to take them. Meanwhile, Editor-in-Chief Scott Wolchek sat in a carnival contraption, where anyone who hit a target could see him splashed by a water balloon.
Soon after I returned to The Oakland Post, to find Oakland University had purchased our center pages in order to print the Student Code of Conduct.
Imagine the fear that ran through my heart when I saw “engaging in public stunts and buffoonery” are “strictly prohibited” by Oakland University.
“All those witnesses,” I thought. “We’re sunk for sure.”
I tried to keep a calm face, but I knew Oakland University was onto me. It won’t be long until OUPD comes to The Post and leads me away in handcuffs.
My dear readers, this may come as a shock to a few of you, but I am a buffoon.
Google defines the word as “a ridiculous but amusing person; a clown.” If that doesn’t define myself and those like me, I don’t know what does.
I make balloon animals in my spare time. I know enough magic tricks to keep toddlers and intoxicated persons amazed for hours. I sit in my bedroom strumming my guitar, writing silly little punk rock songs about video games from the 80s.
While the “buffoonery” expressly prohibited by Oakland University appears under the “hazing” section of our Student Code of Conduct, where does one draw the line? If I willingly embarrass myself – say, by appearing in front of the Oakland Center building wearing a rainbow-colored balloon top hat – am I hazing myself?
Don’t get me wrong. I think the hazing of others is a terrible archaic practice that just builds resentment. Go ahead and ban that and anyone guilty of it.
But Oakland University is full of people who have at least a little buffoon in them. We have jugglers, unicyclists, balloonists, magicians, Quiddich players, LARPers, STEM majors and probably even a few juggalos.
I pretty much show up to class on time, listen well, take good notes and speak when spoken to. I attempt not to engage in public stunts unless I’m given permission.
But every once in a while, an instructor will give me an excuse to let my “freak flag” fly a little. Before you know it, some lucky person in the classroom is walking home wondering how that Three of Clubs wound up in his wallet.
So I beseech you, Oakland University. Do your worst against those who unjustly make spectacles out of others. I’ll stand beside you.
But for those of us who willingly make spectacles out of ourselves? As long as we’re not harming anyone, promise me you’ll cut us a break.
There’s a whole bouquet of balloon flowers in it for you.