Behind the scenes of a contending IT queen

Calculator? Check. Wire-rimmed glasses? Check. Dear IT Ball, love me or leave me: I’m coming to your town and I’m going to party it down.

Every weekend, scores of college students head downtown in hopes of reaffirming their hipness by rubbing shoulders with the trendy and elite. This is a fairly expensive venture fraught with far more dangers than a simple drunken Dinky crawl, but IâÄôm here to tell you that there IS an easier way. For $5, you can spend an evening at the Institute of Technology Ball. Faced with the void of coolness created by a large conglomeration of incredibly intelligent but socially scatter-brained individuals, you will never again question your own awesome divinity. âÄúTim is doing me a huge favor by being my date so I donâÄôt look like a total, utter âĦ loser,âÄù said the University of Minnesota biomedical engineering senior, Jenna Shaw . It was Friday night and we were in the car on the way to the IT Ball where Shaw was hoping to be crowned as the 2009 IT queen. âÄúIâÄôm glad you added âÄòloserâÄô on the end of that because if you had just ended it with udder âĦ that wouldâÄôve been weird,âÄù ShawâÄôs date, Tim, added from the backseat. His joke oozed with cheesiness and everyone turned to deliver him a brief look of pain. âÄúWell Tim, itâÄôs a good thing that youâÄôre dressed so nice because now no one will know just how socially awkward you really are,âÄù I remarked, and I could say that because Tim is my roommate. (Tim did not want his real name to be used in this story for fear that his military friends would haze him for attending the IT Ball.) Shaw had invited her roommates and me to the ball so we could all celebrate the end of her hectic week in the IT queen competition. Some of her activities included participating in a dunk tank, competing in the IT Olympics and raising money for a charity of her choice. If all went according to plan, we would get her drunk, and if all went better than planned, we would get her drunk and she would be crowned the 2009 IT queen. Because IT kids are not necessarily known for their tolerance levels, the get-her- drunk part was easy. Two drinks in, Shaw was flush-faced and giddy with conversation. I decided it was time to start the interview. âÄúCan you please tell me, in your own words, what you think the scientific equation for world peace is?âÄù I began. She was ready. âÄúOh, obviously the answer to world peace is somewhere in F=MA, NewtonâÄôs second law. Force equals mass times acceleration,âÄù Shaw stated, âÄúand it applies to every phenomenon that occurs in the natural world. If you do an experiment and F=MA does not hold, there is something wrong with your experiment, thereâÄôs something wrong with you.âÄù While the two other IT kids ahh-ed over ShawâÄôs sophisticated answer, the two CLA majors at our table (myself included) struggled to put her words into terms that we could understand. âÄúSo what youâÄôre saying is that the problem is not how do we find world peace, the problem is that world peace already exists, but weâÄôre just too stupid to figure out how to correctly set up the experiment of life?âÄù I asked. Shaw nodded, but my fellow CLA student disagreed, âÄúNo. IâÄôm pretty sure the answer to world peace lies in coloring. Think about it âĦ itâÄôs such a universally joyful experience.âÄù (Clearly, she is an elementary education major. WouldnâÄôt we all like to see ourselves just color our way out of the Iraqi occupation?) I also posed the same question to civil engineering senior and IT queen candidate Megan Lott. She responded that the scientific equation for world peace was âÄúa heart.âÄù This made absolutely no sense, but in her defense, Lott was probably coached by the same person who formulated the responses for our current Miss Universe. (For example, Miss Universe recently called her trip to Guantanamo Bay âÄúSooo fun,âÄù posting on her blog that it was âÄúa relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.âÄù Really?) Lucas Spangler , electrical engineering senior and IT king candidate, gave me a significantly more cryptic answer: âÄúWorld peace lies in harmonic motion âÄî both bounded and unbounded, but only bounded if youâÄôre kinky.âÄù I got the impression that he was hitting on me, but I had no idea how. He then confirmed my suspicions with a wink. âÄúI can tell youâÄôre not in IT,âÄù he said. I beamed at him and whispered, âÄúThat, good sir, is the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me.âÄù Intrigued by the prospect of an IT romance, I asked around for some viable pickup lines. These were two of my favorites: âÄúIf I was helocase, I would unzip your genes,âÄù and âÄúItâÄôs not the length of the vector, itâÄôs the force thatâÄôs applied. Unfortunately, the force is inversely proportional to the length.âÄù Wicked. In the end, Shaw was awarded second runner-up and civil engineering junior Katheryn Hope was crowned the 2009 IT queen. Chemistry senior Alexander Johansson took king. Shaw graciously accepted her bouquet of flowers and exited the stage, but I was livid âÄî no, drunk âÄî well, both. âÄúUnbelievable! A junior stole your spotlight?!âÄù I hissed and then loudly announced to anyone who would listen, âÄúI work for the Daily! I can shut this place down! IT is finished!âÄù Shaw grimaced. âÄúUmm âĦ I think itâÄôs time to go,âÄù she said and dragged me out of the ballroom by the arm. Yet all in all, it was a glorious evening. Shaw might not have won IT Queen, but by bringing me along, she succeeded in disproving the many unfair IT stereotypes. Yes, they can be nerdy, some of them mate for life, and pretty much all of them get obscenely excited about math and science, but just as many of them are totally hilarious, outgoing and terribly good-looking. If I felt cool at the IT ball, it was because the IT kids were allowing me to hang out with them, accepting me as one of their own, even though I clearly had no idea what the hell they were talking about. So the next time youâÄôre about to spout off one of those condescending IT jokes, remember two things: first, stereotypes are just unfair generalizations; second, theyâÄôre probably going to be your boss someday, so shut it. Ashley Dresser welcomes comments at [email protected]