Lightbulbs caged in yellow metal frames line the edges of the white tent in the Kirkland courtyard. Up above, a bright and expectant moon gazes down on the gatherers. It is Halloween night, and the air carries the mild chill of impending November. Students congregate around the small cluster of tables underneath the tent. One by one, they walk up to the light blue typewriter sitting on one of the tables and mark themselves present. Tonight was the end of an era, but by chance, a new beginning as well.
“It’s 11:59!” A cry rises from the crowd, “Goodbye, Pole Week.” It is a bittersweet ending, but such is change.
Eager volunteers pass around a chalice — a large plastic Animal Crackers jar shaped like a bear — for the night’s ceremonyr. They take turns plucking pieces of paper from the jar and tossing them aside. Finally, the last volunteer reverently lifts the final slip and slowly, delicately unfolds it. It is the moment they had all been waiting for. The air is thick with suspense, excitement, and the smell of Pinocchio’s pizza.
“And the new Week is…” They draw out the words in ceremonious drama, “CHANCE!” he crowd erupts into chants: “Chance! Chance! What are the chances?”, seamlessly settling into the new theme of their lives for the next week.
The latest addition to the lineup of cultish Kirkland activities, this is the Kirkland Choosening — the weekly Sunday night ceremony that inaugurates a new theme for the week as soon as the clock strikes midnight. In the subsequent days, enthusiasts are tasked with finding clever puns or references to the theme. Some share pictures in group chats and on social media, like a post-swim selfie during Pool Week; others show off their spirit in the dining hall, parading around poles for Pole Week.
Possible themes are placed into the animal cracker jar by the leadership, the self-proclaimed “Council of Elders,” who brainstorm easily punnable words to draw from each week. Three members of the Council, Adam V. Aleksic ’23, John L. Sanchez ’24, and Leo S. Fried ’23, explain the Choosening in succinct and crafted monologues: “Every week, it’s a week. Two weeks ago, it was Pool Week. Last week, it was Change Week. This week, it is Pole Week.”
Recounting the Change Week festivities, the Elders speak one by one:
“We changed our mind.”
“We changed our clothes.”
“And changed our answers on midterms.”
“We changed our friends.”
“We played with change.”
“We paid for things with spare change.”
“We changed a lot of change… by bending it.”
“And then we exchanged it.”
Indeed, the “Week Week” Instagram chronicles students’ weekly pun-based adventures, from playing pool with pool noodles to a polarizing poll pitting Pole against Poll. The page has been ramping up its creativity and increasing its following, now up to an impressive 129 followers, as of publishing. Attendance at the Choosening ceremony has also increased over the course of a few short weeks, going from around 20 people at the start to 72 on Halloween. These new disciples of the Week Week are now enjoying pizza and other refreshments at the Choosening, which recently began receiving funding from Kirkland House.
Like all classic grassroots cults, the tradition started with four people in a basement in need of some fun. Sanchez’s gap year endeavor of learning about a new topic each week based on a word he randomly chose from a jar inspired the Choosening — the founders decided to apply this ritual to having fun with multi-meaning words. A month later, the Week Week fervor has permeated all corners of the House and even stretched outside of Kirkland, with residents from other Houses drawn to the alluring new pastime. The Council of Elders is always recruiting, encouraging people from both inside and outside of Kirkland to join the Choosening and participate in the weeklong shenanigans. After all, the more members, the stronger the cult.
Kirkland is currently in the midst of a flourishing Chance-themed week. They’re taking chances. They’re listening to Chance the Rapper. They’re rolling dice, flipping coins, and calculating the chances. And they’re asking you, dear reader, to follow the wise words of ABBA and “Take A Chance On Me.”