You’re in college. On top of that, you’re in a few clubs. At the University, that means you probably own dozens of shirts from different organizations and events.
Take myself for example: I have some general Virginia t-shirts, a publicity shirt from every First Year Player’s show since Fall 2012 and then general organization shirts — Cavalier Daily shirts (of course), Spectrum Theatre, Alumni Association shirts, and shirts and tanks from fraternity philanthropies — shout out to Sigma Pi’s annual Surf and Turf, a personal favorite of mine.
Every show, every event, every group we join all want us to help publicize for them. T-shirts are a great way to get people talking about certain causes and groups. I probably would not have known about Green Dot, had I not seen the shirt advertising the program. I would never remember the date of the latest First Year Players show. I would be remiss if I did not wait in line for a #HoosGotYourBack tee. And who can forget the popular “Love is Love” t-shirt made by the LGBTQ Center?
However, with approximately 20 University-themed shirts, one might ask “isn’t that a bit excessive?”
Why yes, yes it is! It is ridiculously excessive.
It’s important to celebrate the University community by purchasing swag and promoting the organizations of your choice. I love seeing the many ways in which U.Va. students create and display what is important to them. However, creating t-shirts for every event and club and organization is becoming overwhelming, to say the least. Is there no better example of the kind of privilege we experience on such a consistent basis here? We just accumulate things — in this case, t-shirts — that we rarely wear, to remind ourselves that we were a part of something?
As someone who personally hoards a ridiculous amount of clothing, I implore you to look through your wardrobe and trim the excess this week. Beyond all the University gear you have, think about all the t-shirts you have accumulated over the years. Do you need them all? No, of course not.
It seems that we have put a heavy price on collecting garments from different moments in our lives, and that leads to what I refer to as “Aesthetic Stagnation.” My advice for this semester is to think about all the t-shirts and gear you’ve collected since arriving at the University. Consider how often you will wear such garments after graduation — probably less and less as time goes on.
Start preparing early and wean yourself off of those shirts. Stop buying so many. I repeat: Don’t buy anymore. Find other ways to contribute to organizations and causes that you like. Support your friends by attending their events, liking them on Facebook, participating in their bake sales, and eventually — hopefully — maybe one day we’ll live in a world in which college students don’t make t-shirts for every single event for which they need to raise money. Let’s make the world — and our aesthetics — better.