Five unanswered questions about UConn
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 22:09
They say that a good journalist should always be asking questions. With that in mind, here are five questions I have about UConn – some serious, some lighthearted, all of them so far unanswered.
Why is the Wilbur Cross Building called that? Almost every single building on campus is named after a person, whether it’s a multimillionaire donor, a former university president or a prominent Connecticut politician. This particular building is named after somebody from the latter category, a man who served as the governor of Connecticut during the 1930’s. So why is it the only building on campus referred to by both the first and last name of its namesake? You never hear anybody call our basketball arena the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, the music performance auditorium as the J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall, or the athletic practice fields the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex. Yet it’s always “Wilbur Cross.” Why?
What does Jay Hickey look like? His official university title is Labor Relations Specialist, but everybody knows him as the guy who sends those glorious emails announcing that classes are cancelled for the day due to snow – or as he always writes it, “inclement weather.” No exaggeration, I think more UConn students recognize his name than would recognize President Susan Herbst or Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh. Somebody set up a fake Twitter account in his name @UConn_JayHickey that has amassed over 2,000 followers. The profile picture is a snowflake, because nobody seems to have seen this man. No photograph accompanies his biography on the university’s Department of Labor Relations website. A Facebook search for people named Jay Hickey who attended Brown University reveals one result, with no accompanying profile picture. In January, I invited him by email to be a guest interview on my UCTV talk show. He wrote, “I appreciate the offer, but I have to respectfully decline your offer. Good luck co-hosting your talk show.” And the legend continues…
How did the “Huskies! UConn! HOO!” chant start? I had an idea my sophomore year to track the origins down for an investigative column, but I didn’t even know where to start, thus making zero progress. Online you can find the origins of several athletic traditions. Our fight song (“… symbol of miiiiiiiiiight to the foe…”) was written by Herbert France, founder of the university’s music department, in 1949. Our school colors of royal blue and white were chosen by the Students’ Organization in 1896. Our school mascot of Jonathan the Husky was selected in 1934. A husky dog was selected as a play on words because the animal is native to the Yukon (“UConn”) area of Canada, and the name Jonathan was chosen by a student poll after Jonathan Trumbull, the first governor of Connecticut. But nobody anywhere seems to know who invented the omni-present “Huskies! UConn! HOO!” or why.
How come most journalism majors don’t write for The Daily Campus? On the first day of last spring’s upper-level journalism course Professional Seminar, Professor Marcel Dufresne started by asking how many students were journalism majors, to which almost everybody raised their hands. Then he asked how many wrote for The Daily Campus, to which exactly six raised their hands out of more than 20 students. I never understood this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because The Daily Campus is hurting for contributors. In fact, just the opposite: we have over 150 students on the payroll, and the sign-up sheets for new members were filled by the end of Wednesday’s Involvement Fair. But of the four weekly commentary columnists besides me this year, there is one journalism major, one chemistry, one mechanical engineering, and one molecular and cell biology. This is the opposite of what you would seemingly expect.
Why is West Campus not in the West? Surely it must have been in the western part of campus when it was first built decades ago, but the perplexing question is why the name was never changed after the campus expanded enough westward that “West” is now fairly central. After all, nobody still calls the boxer Cassius Clay. If anything, the structure is actually located slightly south. West Campus is not named for anybody – the UConn Fact Book lists all campus buildings and their namesakes, but no namesake for this one, so clearly it’s named after the direction. Just in my short time here at UConn alone, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences building was renamed Austin Hall and the Classroom Building was renamed Laurel Hall, proving that these things are not set in stone. So why does this stubbornly remain its original name? Perhaps we should keep the name but officially rechristen it after Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North West.