I am well aware that Professor Andries Van Dam is an accomplished man. I know he invented hypertext, constructing the way modern internet users navigate between web pages. I know he wrote, “Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice” which became the “Bible” of the animation industry. I recognize that “Andy” from Toy Story is named after him. And you don’t have to remind me that he was one of the first people to ever get a Ph.D. in Computer Science, and that he founded the department at Brown. But isn’t the University’s ritualistic sacrificing of a baby lamb every fortnight in his name bit much?
Even in light of Professor Van Dam’s accolades, the ceremony is excessive. Why must every computer science concentrator gather on the patio of the CIT for the gruesome spectacle? Why must each of us adorn the lamb with flowers, picked that day? Why must we chant along with the head TAs as they disembowel the innocent creature? And why must we sing the litany of Van Dam hymns into the night?
Can we not exalt Professor Van Dam in any other way? There are so many means by which to honor the contributions of an individual; like a fellowship, building, or initiative. These avenues are deferential, humane, and, most of all, do not require that we spend hours every other week anointing and then killing a sheep selected from our finest flock.
Yes, traditions are an essential part of any community. Still, there are times we must leave antiquated practices by the wayside. We can, and must, continually reflect upon, reinterpret, and rethink our shared Brown identity. I firmly believe that the Van Dam lamb sacrifice should go the way of the monthly Emma Watson Blood Sacrament.