Carnival is a time for letting loose
Carnival is the only time of year that Carnegie Mellon students have to really have some fun. The annual festival happens in the spring semester, and after 99 years, Carnival is pretty well ingrained in Carnegie Mellon culture. Students look forward to it every year, and alumni come back to visit with their families over the course of the weekend. Carnival also has a bit of a reputation around campus as the time when students temporarily forget that they don’t actually go to a party school.
This momentary change in mentality is not a bad thing — students need this time to de-stress. Carnegie Mellon students work hard during their academic year, but spring semester can be especially stressful at times. Carnival is a way to kick back and relax in a variety of ways, by going on all of the Carnival rides, watching buggy races, or sleeping until well after 3 p.m. Drinking is also part of that culture, whether or not the students involved are of age to drink.
However, the blow-out mentality of Carnival is complex; Carnival culture stems from a variety of factors. Firstly, we’re college students. As a demographic, we like to do potentially stupid things, and more importantly, we like to try to outdo each other in how crazy we can get. Carnival is one of the few times in the school year when students can relax and blow off all the steam that’s been building since the beginning of the school year. With a school that’s as stressful as Carnegie Mellon, that’s a lot of steam.
If we want to reduce the amount of craziness that goes on during Carnival, events like Carnival need to happen more often. This theory may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. In any pressurized situation, the single escape valve — Carnival, in this case — is going to see a lot of traffic. The solution is not to let off less steam, but to create more holes for steam to escape through.
Carnival is not too unruly, especially given that events on the scale of Carnival only happen once a year. Yes, Carnegie Mellon students go a little crazy, but our antics could get much, much worse. Furthermore, Carnegie Mellon undergraduates tend to be between the ages of 18 and 22 — the time in life to create the completely insane weekend stories that we’ll be telling when we’re 40. If you’re going to have weekends when you forget all your responsibilities and do whatever you want, now is the time.
While alumni and faculty are present with their families, little kids and all, they know what Carnival is like. Some parts — like the Wiggle Wurm and Granny Bugs rides, or some of the games in the booths — are very family friendly. However, while Carnegie Mellon is a giant nerd herd some days, it’s still a college campus, and Carnival is the last extended weekend before finals. Things are guaranteed to get a little crazy, and I think that’s a good thing.
With that mentality in mind, personal health and safety are still important. Carnival can be a blast, but remember you only have one liver.