Volume 95, Issue 20

Thursday, October 4, 2001
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Purple and proud: What does it mean?

Seven days, many drinks and the key to Western culture

Purple and proud: What does it mean?

Chris Lackner
Gonzo Journalist

Purple and proud. Purple and proud. Purple and...

I was somewhere between University College and the concrete beach when the idea began to take hold.

It was last Monday – a bitterly cold morning which I was battling quite nicely with the combination of a sweater and the Bailey's in my morning coffee. The rain came down in a light, smothering drizzle, but a noticeable energy resounded throughout the campus.

It was the week of Western's Homecoming and it was the beginning of an epic investigation.

Our university has a population of close to 30,000 students, a thriving squirrel community and God knows how many employees, faculty and big-shot administrators. That weekend, a debaucherous horde of former Mustangs would be returning to the fold in order to paint the campus and the city purple.

But, what did it mean to be a Western Mustang? This was the question that began to take a permanent hold on my usually scattered mind.

And so it began – one man's search for the truth behind Western culture.

I started where all good investigations start – a dictionary.

Culture: the customs and civilization of a particular time or people.

Soon after burning the insufferable dictionary, I decided to look for the one man who theoretically should embody the spirit of Western – University Students' Council president Mike Lawless.

"We're winners," Lawless explained. In light of the football team's 22-3 drubbing, which would take place in five short days, his statement now seems kind of ironic. "People around the country constantly admire the purple pride everyone always talks about. It's a feeling that when you're at Western – you are Western."

Lawless cited the tremendous support of Western alumni, as well as the energetic and comprehensive Western Orientation program as two defining contributions to the university's spirit.

He told me exactly what a charismatic student president should say when asked about Western culture. Lawless was a good guy and I really loved his beard, but I'd have to put my ear to the ground and dig among the shadows to discover the truth.

If that plan failed – I'd get Lawless drunk for a second interview.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001