Rutgers hosts fourth annual Geek Week
The word “geek” is often considered a derogatory term, but one week during the spring semester at Rutgers University, the school sets out to prove that everybody is a geek.
Rutgers' fourth annual Geek Week, “Geek Week: Episode IV,” kicked off on Sunday with its gaming tournament, "Knight Slash." The geekiness will continue from March 23-28 with a Nerd Girl panel, a lecture from a NASA scientist, an Evening with George Takei and fun trivia nights.
Geek Week is an opportunity for students to get excited about something and find a community that shares that excitement, said Carey Loch, director of Major Events and Programs for Student Life.
“I think about geek as a verb, not a noun or description for a person,” Loch said. “When you’re a geek, you get really excited about things and geek out. For me, I geek about astronomy and science.”
By the end of the week, around 3,500 geeks will have participated in Geek Week, Loch said.
Trevor Mcormack, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he will be among those 3,500 geeks. He said he is excited for Geek Week, though he doesn’t consider himself a traditional nerd.
“I geek out over the Harry Potter movies. I’ve seen every movie,” he said. “…I’ve always thought it would be fun to attend Comic-Con, but Geek Week is right here so I plan on going.”
Geek Week has definitely grown over the years, and not only in numbers, Loch said. When the event first began, it focused on traditional geek culture, such as comics, gaming and movies, but has grown to include social justice issues.
“We’ve incorporated some social justice issues into (Geek Week),” Loch said. “This week our Nerd Girl Panel is focused on misogyny in nerd culture as it relates to women.”
The Nerd Girl panel will discuss topics ranging from "Cosplay is not Consent" to GamerGate, Loch said. A few of the panelists include Rocket Jump Studios’ Lauren Haroutunian, Danni Danger of The Valkyries and founder of HoodFeminism.com Mikki Kendall.
“We want people to be able to learn about something they don’t know about, whether that’s a game they’ve never tried or to be a part of a conversation on a bigger issue,” Loch said.
George Takei was invited as the keynote speaker for Geek Week, Loch said. He is the keynote speaker for not only Rutgers Geek Week, but GAYpril and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as well.
Loch said she has wanted to bring George Takei to Geek Week for the last three years because he addresses areas of the LGBT conversation. Takei will share personal stories about surviving Japanese internment camp, working on the set of Star Trek and advocating for LGBT rights.
Zara Wilkinson, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Rutgers University-Camden, is another Geek Week speaker who chose to touch upon larger social issues. She visited the Rutgers University Art Library on the College Avenue campus yesterday to discuss depictions of female characters in comics and superhero movies.
Several female superheroes in comics have received new costumes, such as Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Spiderwoman. Each time a female character receives a new, less revealing costume, Wilkinson said the change creates controversy.
“(Wonder Woman) had pants, then she didn’t. She had a jacket, then she didn’t,” Wilkinson said. “Now she has armor, which seems pretty reasonable, and people are disappointed that she no longer has her iconic bathing suit.”
Wilkinson said the discussion is important to have because the way society views female superheroes is representative of the way society views women in general.
“I want to encourage students to think critically about popular culture and to realize that some of the things we take for granted, and things that we might even enjoy, can be problematic,” she said.
The Geek Week finale event will be held on Friday and is meant to be “large and encompassing,” Loch said. The finale will feature a costume party, gaming, board games, a cosplay workshop, a concert and movies.
“We’ve added elements to the finale event to make it more like Comic-Con,” Loch said. “Local vendors will be coming to sell their items, and the Harry Potter group on campus will hold a book drive.”
RU SciFest will be held the following day and will feature demonstrations by Mad Science and interactive “sidewalk science” activities.
“We are trying to expose students to something and give them an opportunity to find community,” Loch said.