The Aquinian

Why do we love this STUpid pun?

(Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

“STUdent” is a pun you’ve probably heard throughout your time at St. Thomas University. Whether it was Mission STUpossible, Across the STUniverse, STUfari or STUpendously Ever After, the university is no stranger to clever word-play when it comes to it’s marketing, especially for welcome week. From the second you step onto campus until you receive your diploma,  that same old reliable pun is always right around the corner.

Becca Hastings, a second-year English major, likes the use of puns because it’s cute, quirky and brings the university together.

“I think it’s an identifying thing. It’s just a creative way to, like, bring us together as a community,” said Hastings.

She does community work for the university and is involved with theatre. She uses the term STUdent to reach students on social media.

“If I’m promoting anything to do with the school, I find [the pun is] really easy to use … because it’s an easily recognizable thing that’s like, ‘Hey, this is St. Thomas,’” she said.

Ashlen Henry, STU’s marketing director, doesn’t know exactly when the pun started, but believes it came from the students.

Ashlen Henry is STU’s marketing director and she says the pun is part of the student’s identity. (Haley Stairs/AQ)

“From a marketing perspective, it allows us to insert our brand into who the students are and how they identify and potential students especially. It’s [like] saying, ‘You’re not a student here, you’re a STUdent,’” said Henry.

Although the pun is used heavily on social media, Henry said you won’t see it in official university documents like the viewbook, academic calendar or an official description.

She wants to ensure the university’s marketing is reflecting the authentic experience of students.

“If we saw that students weren’t using it, and that’s not how they were describing themselves [or] not how they identified, then we’d probably stop using it as well,” said Henry.

Aside from marketing, Henry believes it lends itself well to welcome week.

“Sometimes it’s a direct play on words, sometimes they kind of just put STU in front of a different word and work a theme around it.”

Morgan Matheson, the chair of this year’s welcome week, said the theme was chosen with the pun in mind. The executives came with some already in mind and collectively chose the best one.

“The past four years I know have all had STU in them and personally, I don’t think it would be a welcome week if STU wasn’t in the name somewhere,” said Matheson in a message.

For some, the welcome week pun is enough. But once it’s over, it gets annoying. Fourth-year student Connor Moore feels this way.

Connor Moore can sometimes find the pun annoying when it’s used too much. (Haley Stairs/AQ)

“Beyond the vail of [the] first year kind of mentality … it gets very old, very quick,” he said.

He admits to using it himself, but only if he’s trying to be self-deprecating or ironic.

“I don’t think we should get rid of it … It’s funny, but I think some people try to overuse it and get really into it and take it seriously. And when people take it super seriously, it gets annoying,” said Moore.

Conor Dorcas, another fourth-year student, thinks it’s become part of our culture because of the university’s size.

“STU [is] a small school, so I find it’s easier to build a culture with students all together, unlike [the University of New Brunswick]. There’s a lot of division down there,” said Dorcas.

He uses the pun from time to time in texting situations.

Conor Dorcas thinks the pun works because of the small size of St. Thomas. (Haley Stairs/AQ)

“I like puns, so new puns are always great.”

Regardless, Henry knows there won’t ever be a consensus when it comes to the love of puns.

“Some people laugh at it, some roll their eyes  that’s the nature of a pun.”

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