Stucker: Geese and the Subtler Forms of Geesism

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By Alexis Stucker

Winter is coming. With the unseasonably warm days of early November behind us, it will soon be time for Canadian Geese to fly south for the winter. Come January, the snow-strewn walks of Northwestern will lack a familiar presence: the Canada Goose. I am talking about the Canadian geese that make a mess of the Lakefill.

Canadian Geese have been a part of Northwestern culture since before Northwestern existed. The birds, which travel in flocks of probably at least 4, represent the original inhabitants of Evanston. However, these geese are underrepresented in Northwestern’s dominant culture, particularly during winter quarter, in which their evolutionary-fueled migratory pattern compels them to vacate Lake Michigan. Perusing Yik Yak on a typical Winter Quarter day yields numerous mentions of Canada Goose, a popular jacket. However, there is no mention of the actual Canadian Geese, or the majestic birds that are routinely slaughtered to make these jackets.

Rhetoric on NU’s campus roils with a strong undercurrent of geesism. Geesists under the guise of animal rights activists deter students from feeding geese bread, systematically denying them access to vital resources. Geese are also notably absent from student groups such as Dance Marathon, Mayfest, and ISBE. In my experience, it is exceptionally rare to find students (or geese, for that matter) on campus who are overtly and openly geesist. However, listen closely to the discourse regarding sororities, internships, student organizations, and bread, and you quickly find a great deal of geesism coming from students who would harshly rebuke any such accusation.

This winter, I encourage all NU students to step back and take a moment to reflect on their biases and assumptions. In their absence, appreciate the subtle charm that is the Canada Goose. When a group of young women in a Political Science class walk in together, all wearing Canada Goose coats, resist the urge to post a snarky remark on Yik Yak; instead, reflect on the majestic bird that is underappreciated in the United States and Canada alike. Judgment and harassment are never acceptable, no matter how elitist or mammalian the perpetrators are.

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