Underground guide to Wash. U. gives inside look

| News Editor

Juniors Alex Portera and Sean Fischer are currently compiling an unofficial underground guide to Washington University that will give readers an inside look into the Wash. U. community.

“I want to create a book that gives a comprehensive, personal look into life at Wash. U.,” Portera said. “Something you can’t get from a ranking, an interview, a Web site or another book like College Prowler. I’ve always felt that the impression prospective students inherit from the University is incomplete. I think the standard weekend visit, tour and information session provide such a narrow glimpse of what Wash. U. is actually like. It is a heavily filtered version of Wash. U., which I personally found underwhelming.”

But while Portera wrote the guide primarily with prospective students in mind, he says that his intended audience is anyone with an interest in the University community, including current students, faculty and alumni.

“There is a lot to the University that you can’t find out from the school, and a lot that many students never find out in their four years at Wash. U.,” Portera said.

In order to compile as comprehensive a guide as possible, Portera has reached out to more than 100 students, including fraternity presidents, Student Union representatives and student group leaders.

“All of the people I invited to contribute were student leaders or an expert on whatever topic I asked them to write about,” Portera said. “This is a book put together by students for students.”

One of the students who wrote an article for the guide is former Team 31 co-chair junior Ross Festenstein, who thinks it contains valuable information.

“Everyone kind of has their preconceptions about [student groups’] projects and it’s a good way to let [student groups] speak for themselves and get their word out about themselves,” Portera said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue about overinflating your actual importance. I think it’s going to be more about a true and honest look at what these groups think of themselves and how they contribute to campus.”

Festenstein appreciated the opportunity to write an article for the guide in order to fill what he calls the “information gap” between what goes on behind the scenes and before the show at W.I.L.D. He said that many students just perceived Team 31 as announcing headlines and filling the Quad when there was so much work that students didn’t see.

“I have a lot of friends who year after year, initially doubt the lineup and think, ‘Oh, I don’t really know that second act.’ Then they come back to me, as with Passion Pit, B.o.B. and K’Naan and say, ‘Dude, I love them now,’” Festenstein said. “You shouldn’t have a preconception of W.I.LD. I want people to be optimistic. It’s much easier to rain on someone’s parade. It’s much easier to give a critique than to give support. The book overall makes students give support for each other.”

While the final title of the book is still undecided, Portera is avoiding the use of the name Wash. U. or Washington University in order to avoid copyright concerns that plagued Woocourses.com earlier this year. Porter expects the word “bear” to be in the title. The book is expected to be in print by mid-to-late May.