Mourning the Loss of Rowan’s Bingo Culture

Students volunteer for mini games at RAH's $10,000 Bingo during the spring 2018 semester. - File Photo / Amanda Palma

For Rowan students, the pandemic has taken a lot. It’s taken our fall sports, our hands-on learning opportunities, our Thirsty Thursday dages where ratio is three to one and the beer is absolutely disgusting and you want to leave but can’t because the cops are waiting outside to arrest people. It’s taken our weird formal dances in the Student Center Ballroom, our abject terror as pedestrians that rogue skateboarders will collide with us as we walk toward Science Hall for class, our Rowan After Hours midnight food bars where we received half a scoop of soupy ice cream and then were told that we couldn’t get more. It even (briefly) took our half-price sushi at Samurai. These were things that made the Rowan Experience™ and now, in just a single year, they are gone.

However, one loss to Rowan’s culture has stood above the rest in how its absence has gutted all that made Rowan good, one loss that has yet to be properly eulogized.

The pandemic has taken our in-person bingo.

Rowan is a school where you are more likely to find any given short white guy in a Vineyard Vines pullover and Eagles hat puking in a public elevator than you are to find any viable form of entertainment. On a campus this devoid of all arts and culture, bingo was the only thing unifying students. Without the pull of odds-based crapshoots to determine which student will walk away with a new blender, we are now more disconnected from each other than ever.

You may think that our need for bingo would create a positive energy around the game, an appreciation for all that it does for us. You would be wrong to think that.

Bingo at Rowan was, historically, a shitshow of negativity that often went as far as to build into outright bullying of our peers.

Without in-person bingo, the current freshman class has yet to experience the rush of winning a snack prize or something, only to get hundreds of your peers booing you and yelling at you for winning. They have yet to experience a time where absolutely no one is happy to see you succeed or to see you win. They have yet to experience cheating by accumulating like seven boards when their friends leave, scrambling to check every board as numbers are called and still not winning.

They have yet to experience their loved ones heckling nice Rowan After Hours employees when they don’t speak loud enough. These hecklers are the same students that, sitting next to you in class just days or hours before, were too shy to ask their professor if they would be available during office hours. These are classmates that apologize when they bump into chairs. And here they are, screaming expletives at RAH employees over prizes they don’t even want.

Most egregiously, current freshmen have yet to experience rolling a comically large yellow foam die to determine who wins the prize in the event of a tie. For so many of us upperclassmen, that comically large die has been a pivotal and formative experience in Rowan-induced disappointment.

In-person bingo truly brought out the worst of the Rowan community. It exposed us for the ungrateful, unempathetic assholes we are. In so many ways, it released us from the chains of social convention that otherwise bind us. For two hours every other month, bingo set us free.

As a graduating senior, it saddens me to know that there was a final in-person bingo I attended, and then I never attended one ever again. I know I could participate in the online format, but it wouldn’t be the same. The rage, the threats of violence, the comically large die – everything that made it worth it to me would be missing.

I will miss you, Rowan University bingo. You were too good for this world.

For questions/comments about this story tweet @TheWhitOnline.


    • Hey, I’m the writer of this article. You can probably tell that because my name is at the top of it. If you would like some actual insight, I will.

      First, this article was meant to be a love-letter to some of the things that most institutions never talk about that make Rowan unique. It isn’t flattering, per se, but it is honest of my experience as a student. It’s also a fun article. I wrote something that I hoped other students would see themselves in, and all of the feedback I’ve gotten (besides this) is that they do. Maybe you don’t, and that’s okay. You can have a different experience than myself. I don’t have a “Rowan Experience” of being coddled by admin or cushioned by large-scale institutional support, but I also know I’ve been privileged to be so involved with the Whit and with projects within my department. I’d like to think my understanding of this university is more “typical” than that of the traditional “student leader” archetype. So yes, I and other students thought that this article was really, truly funny — and also honest. You don’t have to, though.

      Second, Rowan doesn’t have to publicize this. That wasn’t the request. The request was to acknowledge some articles, which can be as cherry-picked as they might like. This doesn’t have to be it.

      Perhaps you misunderstand overall: we write for the community, not for the admin. In this sense, we also represent the community. Requests for the university to “publicize” us is to acknowledge the community’s genuine experiences, and also the work we students do for free. If admin didn’t laugh at this article, that’s fine. But this article wasn’t for them. It was for the community. And if admin gets angry that The Whit accurately describes the lived experiences of the bulk of the student community in a way meant to be funny, and their “solution” to that is to never acknowledge the true lived experiences of the community ever again? Well, that’s not really a problem with the Whit, then, is it?

      If you have any more questions or comments on this article or others, feel free to contact me or continue engaging in constructive discussion via comments. I hope this addressed everything you were concerned about.