Two falls ago, my colleague and I started a small pie business. We decided to expand the business and sell something that wasn’t baked. T-shirts supporting our college seemed to be a fun option. Most universities sell meaningless shirts claiming, “We’re #1,” but only one team wins, which makes that team No. 1. Then what do you have? A huge #1 lying on your T-shirt.
When we decided to tackle this project, we attempted to create something that couldn’t be refuted by opponents and would send a positive message about our campuses’ success rather than demeaning our fellow humans. For St. John’s, the answer was in the name of a section of a campus building. St. John’s most successful graduate, Stephen Sommers (writer and director of the Hollywood smash hit The Mummy) was the answer. We undertook this task knowing the extensive time such an endeavor would consume. When the nights got long and tempers flared, we reminded each other this project, mission, revolution, was for the greater good of the community. We trusted the honest nature of Johnnies and Bennies to follow through with their promises to purchase these shirts. We even kept our supplier local, obtaining our shirts from our campuses’ T-Spot. How were we repaid? We got flooded with messages from people ecstatically ordering shirts. We were thrilled, until we found most of these people had pants on fire.
There may have been a valid reason why people were failing to pick up shirts. A relaxing 10 minute walk on a gorgeous autumn day with a gentle breeze through a scenic campus where colorful leaves paint a picture worthy of a calendar’s October in order to socialize with fellow classmates, help build the community and support Johnnie pride is a disastrous distraction from a dark stuffy room flooded with artificial light and sound as one neglects to interact with reality and instead blasts illusionary enemies, saving an imaginary world or catching up on the latest fictional gossip (or Pinterest). But Chip n’ Bert’s is about accommodation. We offered to deliver every shirt, a service not included in the contract but we aim to please. However our fellow peers could not even spare five seconds of their social isolation to answer when we came knocking. We could ramble to infinity and beyond, according to our dear friend Buzz; however, I think the statistics speak strongly for the astonishing lack of integrity on campus. And stats don’t lie.
Based on this sample, albeit a non-random sample, there is less than a 1 percent chance that half these campuses is honest enough to follow through with their basic commitments. The 95 percent confidence interval ranges from 0 percent to 41.2 percent. In case anyone is still confused … if you are one of these falsifiers contact us to redeem yourself, or if you feel like saving yourself a few years in purgatory, buy a shirt to redeem someone else.