Top 10 Union College event shirts


The Wild Goosechase

Will Grimwood, Contributing Writer

As everyone at Union should know by now, students will go to any event for the free stuff. With college students, the allure of free food or mugs is extremely effective. Nothing will draw in students more than the promise of a free t-shirt. Sometimes it feels like every other event that you go to has a free t-shirt attached to it. I’m coming to the end of my Sophomore year, with the past two years having been clouded through a mysterious, unexplained reduction of events, and I have gathered what feels like an uncountable number of shirts. Heck, I’ve begun to run out of coat hangers to store all of them. So today, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to rank some of my favourite and least favourite free t-shirts of the past two years.

[A disclaimer, whilst these ratings will mention events of how the shirts were acquired, the ratings are based on the actual design of the shirts]

2/10 – An Ode to Union

I’m sure that we all remember the first time we sat down in Old Chapel, and we were introduced to our class dean, before traversing into the Nott for that wonderfully awkward photo that for some reason hangs in West College Dining Hall. As a member of the Class of 2024, I didn’t get this chance until the Fall of my Sophomore year. Attached to this event was a grey t-shirt, with the lyrics to Union’s school song on both the front and the back. While I will give it to the designer, it was clever to have the lyrics on the front upside down so when you inevitably forget them, you can just look down. But, this is not a good shirt. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone actually wear this shirt, and if they do, the sense of irony there is palpable. I think some people may use this a sleep shirt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the campus hides them in the back of their wardrobe, like I do.

4/10 – Breazzano Merch

Anyone who knows me knows my Minerva means a lot to me; I held the position as Co-Chair for the last year. These shirts have existed since before I held that role. In fact, I acquired these during my very first time visiting the house. One of these shirts was a uniquely Breazzy shirt, whilst the second was colour swapped for each Minerva house. Whilst I am not fully against either of these designs, I think the shirt falls apart on two major merits. The first merit was outside of Breazzano’s control, and that is the colour orange. No one enjoys looking at an orange shirt, no one wears an orange shirt, and I don’t think many people look good in orange. The second aspect where the shirt fails is its overcomplicated nature. Both shirts have a lot of intricate detail that makes it hard to fully process the shirt at a glance. How are you to advertise a Minerva if no one can take in what the shirt is for?

5/10 – International Orientation Leader

Another thing that is fairly well known about me is that I am an international student. In August of this year I was given the opportunity to introduce new students to campus as an International Orientation Leader. This shirt falls at the same mark as the Breazzano shirts do, being stuck with the colour orange. However, where this shirt does exceed is a clear theming. I was not the only leader to get a variation of this shirt. This shirt was made in a variety of colours for different purposes and different groups. All of these groups were functioning at the same time, and the constant theming on the Nott really unified us in a unique way. Some of the details of the Nott were excluded for simplicity’s sake, which works in its favour, though more could have been amended for a possible 6 or even 7 out of 10.

6/10 – Boardwalk Bash

The more I write this, the more I feel like one of my major quarrels with clothing is colour, or at least colour choice. This shirt absolutely unified the Union Dining crew during the event, as the photo hanging in Upper shows, but I feel that again, a bold, bright and boisterous colour isn’t the safest option. I will add the comment that this is the first shirt of the list that I have actually seen worn around campus. If an outsider were to see this shirt, I feel like it would be good advertising for the event, though it may also hold some falsities to it, as I do not remember a rollercoaster being set up outside of Reamer, although I may just be misremembering.

6/10 – Intramural Champions

While it may not be blindingly obvious from looking at me, I was actually part of the intramural dodgeball champion team in Winter: Duck Dynasty. Was it a difficult season? No. Did any other teams show up for games? Also no. The prize for this win was this t-shirt here. One major qualm I have with it is the over-detailing over the front. I understand that all sports need to be treated equally and fairly, but at the same time, no one is going to notice every string in the lacrosse stick. I’m personally also not the biggest fan of white shirts, but that is permissible in this situation.

7/10 – The MinervOlympics

To those not aware, the MinervOlympics is a new tradition hosted by the Minerva office for incoming first years started in the Fall of 2021. The event involves each orientation group competing against each other in ultimately meaningless games (what in life isn’t ultimately meaningless). Each first year got this shirt in their house colour, but I, as a volunteer, got the same design, just in a strange off-white, somewhere between beige and lilac. The shirt ultimately has a very simple design, that is able to express a solid amount of information for the event, without you having to know too much about it. The rings are reminiscent of the Olympic rings, but add new meaning: The Seven Minerva Houses. Ultimately, I have worn this shirt, even if it is under a hoodie.

7/10 – The Classic Union

What more is there to say about this shirt? I first got this one right before I went into quarantine for the first time. It is simple, nothing but an artistically faded bold text, but is instantly recognizable not only as that specific shirt, but also as our school logo. I feel it is good to give incoming first years a garnet shirt from the get-go, so you are ready to rep Union from day one.

8/10 – Nott Today COVID: The Classic Union Pun

I don’t think it is legally permissible to get through a week at Union without hearing at least some permutation of this joke. It hides everywhere, from witty friends to the 404 message on the school’s website. A fun personal story about this shirt: I was actually featured on President Harris’ Instagram wearing this shirt, because I happened to be sitting outside the library wearing it. The Garnet is a classic touch, and who can’t support a simple pro-vaccination message?

9/10 – LobsterFest 2021

Lobsterfest is a staple of Union College. It was one of the few traditions that was not only made apparent to me as a first year, but that also actually ran during COVID. This shirt sits comfortably within the boundary of only using two colours remarkably well, with a fantastic level of detail and shading. The humour in this shirt is apparent, without having to blatantly explain the joke. It is a fun shirt that is very noticeable, and fairly unique compared to other entries on this list. My own personal gripe that kept it away from the 10/10 is the colour of the shirt itself; cream simply doesn’t match my personal style. I not only would, but do wear this shirt fairly regularly.

10/10 – The Wild Goosechase

This was a UProgram event almost exactly a year ago from my writing this. A series of silly little competitions and tasks to perform, you and your friends act like idiots for points. Did we win? Of course not, but we had fun together. One competition we definitely won though was best team name: “Goose Willis.” This shirt is remarkable. It combines colour in a way that makes everything stand out; it is instantly recognizable across campus, and one often under-discussed design aspects: the name tag. Being able to distinguish and unite your team was a wonderful creative decision on behalf of the artist. The shirt colour was a good choice, as it not only makes for a good base layer that most people can match somewhere, but it allows for the actual design to stand out even more. I genuinely really love this t-shirt and wear it as part of my regular rotation (although that might also be because of the memories attached).

I’m almost certain I’ve missed some, and obviously some shirts came before I did, but these are mine, and I’m excited to see what new shirts I can get in the future.