All Drunk and Games

Sun God Festival

By Maureen Ravelo

Drama. Craziness. Wild. Bad vodka. Epic. Too much friendliness and vomit all over your shoes. Those are some of the words current students used to describe UCSD’s traditional Sun God Festival – the one day out of the entire year we ditch the library for a few cups of cheap alcohol. True, it’s a day of shameless debauchery and drunken bliss, but not without a cause. It’s more than just a pointless drunk fest – after all, why would the nerds of UCSD sacrifice perfectly good brain cells?

It’s because at a certain point all work and no play is bound to drive any conscious person crazy. UCSD kids spend an unhealthy amount of time in front of books to the point that they forget what day of the week it is. No where else will you find zombie-like students twitching from eight cups of coffee or an overdose of caffeine pills just for the sake of getting that “A.” I’ve visited other universities and no where else (not even Berkeley) can compare to UCSD’s socially-dead campus. It’s true we lack the contagious school spirit of other schools and that’s just because we have no sports teams we can be proud to call our own and our Greek scene is nothing but a cluster of clubs. So we have nothing else to do but turn to our textbooks. Academic competition is fierce (especially if you’re a science major) so what do we get for all our hard work? There’s got to be something more than just high GPAs that attract more and more high school graduates to southern California.

When we’re not in front of the books, we’re out in the sun enjoying T.I. or Third Eye Blind or Yellowcard live on stage. For free. What other schools can say that? We may not have a division 1 (anything) team (well I guess if you count water polo), but we are rewarded with endless concerts throughout the year. And it’s not a couple of sloppy shows thrown together – student and administrative committees put a lot of time and effort into planning events to reward their hard-working students. So far, so good – their shows have generated some of the highest admission rates yet. If the planning committees work hard, the students work even harder to make them memorable. For all their all-nighters and 10-page papers, students take full advantage of the concerts to blow off some steam. Three big quarterly concerts and countless smaller shows are held throughout the year, all leading up to the UC-renown Sun God concert – the one day in May that makes everyone come down to San Diego to enjoy the closest thing to Woodstock. Held for 26 years and still going, kids truly let loose for this all-day celebration.

But what is it really? The Sun God Festival pays tribute to a 14-foot bird statue built over 20 years ago that stands on the grassy knolls by Muir college. Every university has their quirky traditions and the Sun God bird is ours. Around midterms and finals season you’ll find some students walking under it for good luck. Come spring quarter, we pay him back. Current ERC student Michael Le says, “Sun God is an excuse to make up for everything UCSD lacks compared to other colleges in a single day.” It’s the one day San Diego kids do it big. It’s the one day campus is alive. It’s the one day your intoxication levels will make you say hi to that guy or girl you’ve had a crush on all quarter long, or stand up in the middle of class to profess your love for your teacher, or even walk around in nothing but your boxers (but bring a shirt and shoes if you want to get food in the dining halls). You’ll see even the quietest kids go wild frolicking in the PC fountain filled with soap bubbles (the oldest prank in the book that never really gets old), shouting “Happy Sun God!” to complete strangers, and bopping their heads to loud music over a plate of free food. And here’s a quick list of artists who have graced our campus: Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, My Chemical Romance, Talib Kweli, Cypress Hill, Ozomatli, Hot Hot Heat, Gym Class Heroes, Jimmy Eat World, Ok Go, Jack’s Mannequin, and more. UCSD’s huge campus and six-college system may seem to divide the student body, but the Sun God Festival brings us all together.

Despite this year’s lackluster “re-vamped” Sun God layout, I’m sure the festival will still live on in the hearts of many. This year the administration tried to crack down on the alcohol-related problems that Sun God has generated over the years. This meant isolating all of the festivities to Rimac field and enforcing wristbands with barcodes that contained all your student information. Even though we had Sean Kingston and Coheed and Cambria headline next to over 40 other bands, the student body was not impressed with the concert itself. But this didn’t stop them from having a good time. Senior Mu-Hua Cheng said that even though the headliners were a joke, “I’m still going to have fun drinking my ass off.” Some UCSD students didn’t make it to the concert, but still took advantage of the day, simply because it was Sun God. Even though you can never be too old for Sun God, I think the festival is aimed toward the freshmen. It’s a day for them to experience total freedom from home, and at the same time a day to help them find a sense of community with their classmates. It’s something unique to UCSD and something its students will fondly remember for years after graduation.