Has our social culture went too far too many times?
House rivalries are a staple of your StFX freshman experience. No matter where you live – even if you live off-campus – you will have, at the very least, a house cup rival. But the yearly residence hockey face offs are not where the rivalries end. The fact of the matter is that residence life is affected by drama between one another. For some houses, the drama isn’t a huge component. For the OC students, the rivalry ends at the hockey rink. For those of us who are living on campus and have lived through our first year in a typical StFX residence, let’s just say everyone knows about a story or two.
Living in Chillis for my first year, the stories I would hear about the Chillis/TNT rivalry felt kind of like legends the second years had to pass down. It was all word of mouth, obviously; nobody ever had evidence that some of the stuff happened. Usually it was related to the house cup. Stories about flooding residences and throwing chicken wings on our front lawn, classy. Although, the stories were pretty one-sided. I don’t recall hearing much about what Chillis did in retaliation, or the things we started. It was just another one of those things that made up the residence experience.
The Chillis and TNT, as I knew them, don’t really exist anymore. The decision to change University Ave into co-ed residences has changed a lot about incoming students’ experiences in those houses and is even creating problems with the annual house cup. It’s not just University Ave that has been going through changes, Burmac isn’t a thing anymore after one too many destructive games. Lane Hall is currently being used for professors and staff until it gets torn down in the near future. The classic StFX house rivalries as we know them are being quietly dismantled.
Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? I’d say it’s not really a black or white situation. On one hand, house cup rivalries can escalate into something that goes well beyond good old fun. A particularly scathing example is 2005’s Burmac rivalry, when misogynistic posters were spread on Burke’s female floors. This so-called “prank” led that year’s hockey game to be cancelled outright. CBC reported that, “a dead deer was put in the foyer of the Burke residence” a year prior. Honestly, it’s a miracle that it took until 2016 for Burmac to be cancelled; but on the other hand, house cups are something people looked forward to each year. Despite some of the out-of-control examples, plenty of house cups came and went without much of a problem. It brought residences together.
I think the key here is that StFX’s residence rivalries aren’t just relegated to hockey games. The year in your res may have felt like it led up to the house cup, but was that really what it was all about? Not really. House rivalries, and by extension residence traditions, are just how we keep the status quo on this campus. Categorizing each other into residences and taking on all the stereotypes (good and bad) that come with them. Based on my experiences, StFX is a bit unique compared to other Atlantic universities because your residence sticks with you. The res you were in marks you among the X community and can even become a part of your Alumni identity. At University Ave, there’s a big “uppers” culture; people returning and hosting events for the res even after they graduate. When talking to a friend who goes to Mount Allison, she told me that her frosh residence did not impact her much at all; it was just somewhere she lived for one year. At X, it definitely does become a part of who you are, even if you aren’t extremely involved in residence life. They can give you a family, but residences can also be difficult to fit into and can promote unhealthy traditions. Traditions that absolutely seep into rivalries between different residences.
StFX prides itself in residence life. Number one social university, but maybe it’s a good idea to tone it down a bit because rivalries become out of control and negatively impact everyone.