March 16, 2011

Phoenix Confident in Underdog Role

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Although Friday’s festivities may be labeled “Dragon Day,” another creature lurks in the campus foreground. He resents the lack of attention, secondhand treatment and benign neglect on the behalf of the student body. A hero in Harry Potter, the phoenix is merely an afterthought on The Hill. Following years of underdog status, the engineers will fight back, to no avail.

“We’re at a bit of a disadvantage,” President of the Phoenix Society Ben Wineholt ’11 conceded. “There’s a bit of a lack of construction experience,” he noted, as “we’re teaching them how to build solid structures.” Apparently, engineering majors no longer know how to engineer or build a structure, an aftereffect of stark budget cuts.

Wineholt acknowledged that the College of Architecture, Art and Planning has the upper hand in their plans. For starters, AAP includes “planning” in its name. The college unleashes the full force and fury of all first years — canceling their classes to construct the dragon.

While the architects start Spring Break a week early, the engineers draw from a pool of 30-or-so selfless phoenix volunteers. In spite of the overwhelming odds — including a limited budget and insufficient manpower– the engineers aren’t discouraged.

Embodying the hopes and dreams of all Cornell engineers, the 14-foot tall, golden phoenix is a marvel to be seen. Working in the High Volt laboratory, Wineholt described the phoenix as “steampunk, that is mechanical.” The creature uses “wood, chicken wire and paper machete” around a metal skeleton.

During the construction process, Wineholt anticipated the final showdown.“It’s all about that moment when the phoenix confronts the dragon,” Wineholt insisted.

It is possible that rogue engineers may intervene, turning the tables in favor of the phoenix. Past years have seen frozen fruits flung at the dragon, along with shabbily-packed snowballs scattered along the architects’ procession.

But expect the Cornell Campus Police to be on full alert, as they zealously patrol the parade route. They will ensure that Day Hall denies students any semblance of fun on the Hill, from dispersing snowball fights to nearly doubling the number of kids referred to the Judicial Administrator last year for drinking or smoking.

But some students involved in the phoenix construction will mediate as peacemakers. Daniel Liu ‘12, a civil engineering major and architecture minor, described himself as straddling the fence. “I don’t want to get too antagonistic,” Liu said.

In apprehension of possible conflict, Wineholt expressed hope that both colleges would remain cordial and avoid physical confrontation. Rumors abound as to pranks on either side of the bitter rivalry. “We do not fear for the safety of the Phoenix, only for our banners in public places.,” he said, as “the architects do all these pranks.”

On the record, Wineholt disassociated himself from any possible shenanigans, explicitly stating, “I’m not officially aware” of any plans, but smiled sadly.

The engineers may plan revenge for the annual “Nerd Walk,” an event where sneering architects scour Duffield Hall in an attempt to cajole and provoke the studious engineers.

One engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the delicate nature of pranking, described the Nerd Walk incident. “I don’t mind that the architects are running around Duffield looking funny now. But ten years down the road, they’ll be running around for me,” the anonymous student said, insinuating that the architects would eventually work underneath the engineers.

He added, “We engineers don’t have to try so hard” to be cerebral, mentioning that some of most successful people — Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg—are “nerdy.”

The engineers working on the phoenix contended they possessed definitive advantages, including a more relevant curriculum and a superior work ethic. After many long hours of hard labor and sleepless nights, they maintained an aura of confidence.

But the engineers might be downplaying their rivals’ infamous insomnia. On any given night, a casual stroll past Rand Hall will reveal dozens of architects sketching for a ‘review,’ humming along from dusk to dawn.

In response, Wineholt claimed that despite the architects’ ability to evade sleep, “We plan to beat them with the size and presence of our phoenix.”

When questioned, his architect counterparts expressed vehement disagreement. One student described his experience in his venture onto enemy territory during the ‘Nerd Walk’ in Duffield Hall.

“It was quite successful,” said Aaron Goldstein ’15, adding “[the engineers] are so caught up with their calculus and slide rulers and derivatives that they can’t make anything so good.”

Goldstein unfairly predicted that “[the phoenix] will probably be awful,” but ended with a chant of “dragon, dragon, dragon oy oy oy.”

Despite the apparent enthusiasm gap between the two camps, the engineers pledge to fight hard. And to their credit — the smaller budget, far fewer volunteers and little official recognition by the college — the phoenix might possibly ‘beat’ the dragon. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s epic battle.

Original Author: Max Schindler