Fordham has lost an important tradition.
Staff Stressed Screamer
Every week I get to the point of just wanting to scream. Scream because of all the commitments I’ve made and realize the little time I actually have to get all of them done. Scream because I just want it to be the weekend already. Scream when I realize that this weekend will have to be a weekend spent catching up on work I should have done during the week. I know I’m not alone. You probably feel this way by the time we hit Wednesday or Thursday every week. You’re starting to run out of gas. You’re already seeing all the work that we’ll have to do for next week. You want to literally crawl into a hole and just hide from all the work. It happens to all of us and the work is going to have to get done.
Enter the Fordham Primal Scream. It was a long-time tradition here at Fordham that every Thursday night at 10:00 PM, everyone had five minutes to let out all of their stress and tension with a full-throated scream, shout, yell, or whatever you want to call it. The Primal Scream would give just enough relief for one to make it through Friday classes and the long-awaited (and deserved) weekend. Nobody was concerned, thinking somebody was hurt, because everyone was doing it. Not only did it relieve stress, it brought everyone living on campus together, even the Jesuits, faculty, and staff.
According to an archived edition of The Ram Newspaper, this tradition of the Primal Scream started during the Spring midterms of 1982 when one student opened up the window of his dorm and started screaming. Others heard it and started joining in and before they knew it, basically the whole university was joining in on The Primal Scream. It went on for years until, sadly, the tradition was lost. According to some faculty and staff who have been at the university for decades, they say this tradition was lost only within the last few years.
I’m not sure why it was discontinued. I can take a few guesses, though. Perhaps the tradition was simply not passed down to the freshmen, thus slowly petering it out as a weekly ritual. Maybe there were too many complaints about how much of a disruption it was, and so RA’s began a crusade to eliminate the practice.
However, my other hypothesis is that maybe some Psych major argued that screaming is just not a healthy way of releasing stress–an argument that might have been the silver bullet for the Primal Scream. If this is what brought about the end of the Scream, I want to counter the argument by pointing out that it’s definitely not healthy to repress one’s feelings of stress and tension. We need to find a way to release all those negative emotions. To suppress them would be like not crying when you feel sad, or not laughing when you find something funny–it’s just not natural.
To point out the value of the Primal Scream, I want to point out some examples of the general usefulness of any loud vocalized noise. Tennis players give a solid yell when they swing their rackets to hit the ball. Why? Apparently it lets them exert more power in their swing. We scream when we are surprised or scared. Why? It’s our body’s way of responding to perceived danger, but it’s also a signal of fear for any nearby listener. We scream when we’re angry or frustrated with someone. Why? Sometimes we feel that it’s the only way to get our point across. Soldiers give a solid yell when charging into battle. Why? It can instill fear in the enemy while drumming up courage in the unit.
Now as it is, I already find myself sighing throughout the week, but sighing is not enough. It’s not enough for when I feel the “danger” of impending due dates. It’s not enough for when I’m frustrated with the study materials in front of me. I need that good scream to “get more power into my swing”; to get me pumped up as I charge through the last 10 pages of that 20-page paper. And yet I don’t want my scream to be perceived as some signal of imminent danger. I don’t want people to think that I just got physically attacked in my room or received some tragic news. I’m just looking to release the pressure valve, and a nice blood-curdling scream is exactly what I need. A solid five minutes is all I’m asking for. Once the allotted time is over, I’ll get right back to my work and finish what I need to do.
Now, I don’t want to do this alone. I want to know that I’ve got allies in this battle against stress. We’re all stressed, but we’re going to get through this…together! So if you’re reading this and want to do some commiserating, I invite you to join me in bringing back the Fordham Primal Scream on Thursday, December 5th, at 10:00 PM. It would be great if we were to gather onto Eddie’s to let out the scream. It would create another level of community at Fordham. We scream together during sports games. We cheer together at theater productions and concerts. Why not unite in the release of our weekly frustrations?
Still, you don’t have to go anywhere to do it. You can do it from wherever you are: if you’re in your dorm room, open your window and let it out; if you’re walking back from the cafeteria, scream on the sidewalk; if you’re in the library…it’s probably best that you go outside to scream. If you live off-campus, but are still within the neighborhood, I invite you to just walk on to campus and maybe do it as a group on Eddie’s.
If you’re not interested, that’s fine. I’m not saying we all should do it, especially if you feel you’ll get nothing out of it; but please do support those of us who want to! Let’s spread the word. I hope to hear the deafly calming sounds of all of us bringing back the Fordham Primal Scream.