|Like this movie. All my female friends made me watch it, and you know what? I'm comfortable enough in my own identity to say that it sucks.|
They say the greek population at Cornell is about thirty percent of the student body, but it feels a lot bigger. Judging by the number of shirts I see reading 'I'm not slacking off--my code's compiling', the number of nerds hovers around thirty percent as well. But you never see a group of nerds whaling around North Campus in a makeshift mobile pool made by sticking a tarp in the back of a pickup truck.
Here's the secret: greeks just organize better. There's no difference between Pi Phis and Tri Delts and Alpha Chis and Junior Mints. But there's about fifty shades of nerd at Cornell, and they all have their own habitats, cultures, and patterns.
For example, last Saturday night I watched the Asian pop acapella, went to a rock concert hosted by my friend Tom's frat (himself a nerd), watched Ring of Steel (the theatrical swordfighting group) perform, and then found myself watching giant robots fighting other giant robots with the anime club. Four different nerd groups with very little overlap. Music, electronics, theater, anime . . . the problem is, the word nerd has come to describe someone who cares about something a little too much.
|For instance, it's totally possible to be an echinda nerd|
I think there's two main species of nerds at Cornell--the Risleyites and the engineers. The Risleyites live in the theater dorm and engage in card games, role play, and a little light kinky sex. The engineers live on the engineering quad, build solar powered cars, eat ramen, and smugly contemplate their rich future salaries since they're ensured jobs. Much like matter and antimatter, if they meet, they explode. But thankfully, they don't often do it.
The Risleyites are mostly Arts and Science students; the engineers are, of course, engineers. Human Ecology doesn't produce nerds. I'm not sure what it produces. I think it used to produce housewives, but it's not supposed to do that anymore. It's not surprising that a college who's unifying theme is 'Stuff Involving Humans' can't coalesce around a single nerdy subculture. I suppose the Architecture school might count as nerdy, but if obsession around a single weird subject counts as nerdy, the average architecture student's level of obsession comes off as 'cultish'.
There's also the hotel school, which produces event planners, master chefs, and the only people who take Intro to Wines seriously. I've never met a nerdy hotel student, but I've only met two hotel students, and I've never been able to get either one to conclusively explain why they chose hotels to dedicate their lives to. There's the Ag school, comprised half of farmers and half of business majors (Cornell was founded back when farming and business were synonymous), neither of whom are known for their love of Japanese childrens cartoons and/or building robots out of duct tape, wire, and chewing gum.
I can't help feeling that I've forgotten a particular school, but can't remember what it is. Dentistry? Do we have a dentistry school? And if so, where can me and my baseball bat find it?
So if you're the kind of socially awkward person who likes to hang out with nerds, you'd better narrow down your search criteria for friends at college. Here's a primer for spotting nerds in the wild. Computer science nerds tend to wear dingy black tee-shirts with coding slang written on the front. Their hair is usually matted and unkempt. For some reason, this is the species of nerd that finds it easiest to get a girlfriend. The girlfriend will also be a computer science nerd.
Theater nerds are trickier to identify. You don't want to go looking for them and ending up with a theater punk instead. Theater punks will dye their hair and wear leather outfits that I can only describe as 'steampunk from a thrift shop'. Also, they and theater nerds will tend to hold their hair back with goggles. But theater nerds generally share the unkempt hair of computer science nerds (come to think of it, all species of nerds don't really have good hair. Must have something to do with our brainwave radiation). They can be identified by their necklaces, which will contain either sword pendants, wolf's head pendants, or a pair of dragon wings.
There's also bio nerds. These are the most boring class of nerds (when they don't overlap with another pre-existing nerdy subculture). Their top concerns are MCAT scores, research positions, and their orgo grades (in that order). Of course, I myself am a bio major, but one look over at Cornell's biological research tower will tell you everything you need to know about this class of nerds. They live in a tall, windowless tower with a single door and spend their entire day working to improve their med school application. The difference between a bio nerd and a worker bee is size (of their social lives).
Come to think of it, it's probably time we stopped using the word 'nerd' and came up with our own distinctions. Any ideas?