Inspired by mutual aversion to alcohol and a general lack of friendship, a group of undergraduates is pursuing a group independent study project intended to "lay the groundwork for potential research on how to make friends by starting a Group Independent Study Project," according to Gretchen Lopez '13, the student leading the effort.
Lopez said her goal for the GISP was simple: "We want to take the loner out of the CIT, put him in a different classroom, and give him the opportunity to talk about that loneliness in an interdisciplinary, intellectually stimulating, for-credit setting."
The student-run workshop is designed to give participants the practical tools to develop offline social networks. Lectures will focus on topics ranging from "How to Text for Success!" to "How to make this GISP not look like an elaborate ploy to develop a social life."
While only being offered for a half-credit, Lopez asserts that the GISP is a substantial time commitment. The class requires extensive reading, including weekly excerpts from People, Star, and Oprah magazines, and students are required to present at least ten Myspace-style photos with new friends per week. Participants, confirmed Lopez, are consistently required to implement what they learn.
"If a student hears a lecture on shaking hands, he can't just stay home, look in the mirror, and pretend to greet his own reflection," Lopez explained, going on to say: "No, as students of a university-funded GISP, participants are expected to go out and shake as many hands as possible. A responsible student will devote more time to socializing and less time to academics."
Additionally, along with the regular lecture times, the GISP includes mandatory screenings of Jersey Shore, and weekly sections will be held Saturday nights at parties.
Participants are encouraged to leave their laptops and inhalers at home.
"It's great to get out of a cramped classroom and put everyone instead in a small, cramped fraternity basement," Lopez claims. "Nothing brings me greater joy than watching one of my students leaning against a wall, wiping the steam off his glasses, and talking awkwardly to a coed between forced sips of Natty Light."
In addition, if students feel unsure about any of the material taught in section or class, Lopez has trained a full staff of fraternity brothers and athletes to act as TAs.
"I can't wait to teach my math TA to shotgun a beer, dude," stated Thor Rockwell, '11, head TA and noted beer pong champion. "I seriously wish I were nerdy enough to take this class."
The TAs will also be on staff to assist students in their final projects: having their first drunken dance floor hook-up.