Friday Underground, dubbed FUDG (fudge) opened on the very first Friday of the 2015-2016 academic year. For five years since that night, we’ve run the biggest, most consistent operation on-campus (sorry, Mock Con). This note is about who we are and what we do. This is about our passion.
Because we happen every single Friday, Friday Underground maintains a mythical status among the student body. We’ve always been here, and will continue to be here, but that’s not strictly true. Friday Underground began because a few students-- Kassi Scott, Elaina Prillaman, Austin Frank-- saw a pervasive need on campus for neutral territory, for a place that had no objective. What they found on campus, which I believe continues to exist today, is that every space on campus is very productive, focused, and goal-oriented. These are all very admirable traits on their own, but because of this, in an achievement-centered culture, every place, speaking quite literally and geographically, has a very explicit purpose: D-hall is for eating (or working). The dorm is for sleeping (or working). The commons are for tabling, or trying not to make eye contact with the tablers (or for working). Classrooms are for lectures AND working, and every other scrap of real estate on campus is for studying, meetings, and working, working, working. When you walk somewhere at Washington and Lee, you are always walking to somewhere, for a very specific purpose, in order to accomplish a very specific task. Our physical environment incessantly challenges us to be productive.
The founders, guided by the fearless leader, Dr. Kirk Luder, sought to subvert this notion entirely. The ARC basement does not challenge you to do something; in fact, there is nothing “to do” at FUDG at all. In contrast to the rest of student organizations, it lacks any element of competition. It exists for you, in the singular, and that is what makes my job as the artistic director of Friday Underground so fun; I get to say “yes” to everyone. I get to give you a stage. From our events to our snacks, we come from students, by students, and for students. In the same way we draw the chalk art on the walls, we want you to own the space and make it yours. The leadership team sweeps the floors and turns on the lights, but FUDG becomes what you want us to be. You’re here to hang out, to slow down, and you’re here to be, in the passive.
FUDG has grown massively this year: I can’t thank you enough for that. Just like writers are nothing without readers, FUDG is nothing without our friends. It’s become a massive operation, and our team works tirelessly (literally, we go to midnight every week) to make this happen. We do it because, in complete contrast to most of W&L culture, or really any academic culture ever, we don’t care how “good” you are, whether you’re a full band with a new EP or just someone who has a favorite song, someone with a new poem they wrote or a hilarious improv skit, we want you to share your craft because it’s special, and it’s special SOLELY because EXACTLY because SINCERELY because YOU are the one doing it. You are wanted here, you are loved here, you can belong here. Come say hi.