Flames of the Torch

If you visited the homepage of St. John’s University last week, you most likely saw a gigantic image of Johnny Thunderbird, our university’s beet-red school spirit promoter who just celebrated his first birthday a few weeks ago.

Click on that image, and you’ll be brought to a University published article about Johnny’s birthday celebration, and all of the wonderful

fun that occurred with it. In case you missed it, Johnny Thunderbird’s all-day birthday bash is being “billed as this fall’s hottest party,” according to the University’s article. In the world of journalism, that would be considered a gross example of editorializing, but we’ll

look the other way on that one.

Continue further and you’ll read about the food, games and karaoke festivities that made the Thunderbird’s first birthday a signature example of St. John’s revelry. The question we have is, besides the men’s soccer game that topped off the all-day celebration, was there something that happened at Johnny’s party that actually deserves being highlighted on the University’s main website?

The nature and intent of Johnny’s celebration was good-willed: it provided students with an opportunity to come together on campus, join in some school pride before a big game and eat free food. But the desperateness that the school has shown in featuring a cheesy recap of this day on stjohns.edu is both absurd and disgraceful.

Perhaps the powers at be feel that this is a wise business tactic, to plaster the institution’s homepage with evidence of school spirit at a time when prospective students are like a customer at a car dealership. However, we feel that it only hurts the reputation of the school as it displays a potentially harmful possibility that we as a University have little else  of which to be proud.

Johnny Thunderbird turning one is not impressive news, and neither is the fact that students actually came out for a school barbecue and soccer game for once. This happens every week at other institutions. Next to Johnny’s spot on the University’s homepage, there is currently a feature about a St. John’s science graduate student who has recently been selected to take his academic research on to Harvard.

This is news that represents the complete opposite of the Thunderbird’s birthday bash: It demonstrates impressive intellectualism happening at St. John’s and it’s a serious article about an interesting University student who found success here. Surely this is much more newsworthy than anything the school’s mascot does; if nothing else, it’s a good business strategy as an institution of higher learning.

We suggest that the University understand the difference between these two features on the website. If St. John’s wants to continue to grow and be advertised as one of the best places to receive an education in the United States (like they claim), it needs to be represented like one.

Happy birthday Johnny, maybe next year you’ll get the attention you deserve.