“Think Beyond Possible” shirts need re-thinking

Many students fondly remember getting their acceptance letters from Case Western Reserve University around this time, and some of us even remember receiving a shirt in the mail a few weeks later. However, is it about time that this shirt, commonly referred to as the “brain shirt” be rethought.

Most people will agree that CWRU is an academically intensive school; grades are normally at the forefront of student’s minds. Since this is a relatively true fact, it is the most important thing to advertise to students upon their acceptance.

After receiving her acceptance shirt, current first-year student, Margaret Shull, said that she felt that the school was branding itself as “nerdy.”

Although students of CWRU will mostly agree and embrace our collective nerdiness, and it is not necessarily a negative connotation to the school, the campus community should be recognized for many other activities outside academics.

Jonathan Wehner, the director of Recruitment and Strategic Initiatives, and one of the people who has experience working with this shirt, thinks that the shirt is a symbol of students at CWRU being smart and intellectually curious. “[It] builds excitement among the admitted students,” he said.

Wehner described that one of the important elements when designing the shirt was that it would be something students would be excited to wear. The office that distributes the shirts explored potential options of updating the design; however, each year they see social media posts with students and their shirts, which is the desired effect.

What happens when students get to campus; are they still wearing the shirt? Is it still exciting? Does it fully represent our campus beyond the academics? The shirts don’t seem to appear very often. Shull even explained that she no longer wears the shirt because she doesn’t want everyone to immediately know she is a freshman.

Current sophomore Jenna Mancuso thinks that getting a t-shirt in the mail definitely helped her get excited about CWRU and loves the nerdy appeal of our campus. “I do think that the shirt may also emphasize the divide that already exists between the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics] programs and the rest of the admirable academic programs on campus,” she said.

CWRU’s campus is praised for much more than academics, and even within academics, the variety of studies here expands beyond STEM subjects.

All in all the current “brain shirt” may produce the desired initial effect of having potential students be excited about attending CWRU, but it might be time for a new incoming freshman t-shirt trend; one which represents all students on campus.