Peter Wojtechko, Jr.
Signs will soon be appearing around campus, advertising yellow tee shirts with the green words, “Saint Vincent College: The Original Hippsters,” and a Photoshopped picture of SVC President, Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B., wearing a pair of thick Ray-Ban horn-rimmed glasses. These shirts are being sold as a fundraiser headed by second-year prefect, senior Rory Mitrik, to benefit Residence Life student programming and Campus Ministry’s new Student Emergency Fund. The shirts first became available for purchase at a booth during Homecoming weekend. Depending on student interest, the shirts will continue to be available until the end of the semester from Mitrik and will soon be sold outside the cafeteria.
The idea for the ‘Hippsters’ shirt started as a joke between Mitrik and his friends while at SVC during the summer. He explained, “We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be crazy if we put Br. Norman on a shirt and it said, ‘Hipps don’t lie’ or something like that, ‘the original Hippsters.’” Mitrik went on to say, “Our friend was like, ‘You should do it, you should do it.’ So we did.”
Mitrik and senior prefect Tom Cocchi developed the idea and shirt design over the summer, and Mitrik began looking for a good cause for the shirts to benefit, thinking that “it could benefit Res Life and student programming, but something more meaningful, too.”
“I wanted to sell the shirts to benefit some sort of charity or something involving the school,” Mitrik explained. Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Collins suggested the Student Emergency Fund, which Sarah Sebrosky recently helped initiate, and Mitrik agreed that “the Emergency Fund was a good supplement to [the Residence Life fund].”
Mitrik said that if all of the shirts are sold, paying off the cost of the shirts will leave about $500 to be split equally between the Student Emergency Fund and Residence Life student programming.
Beside the fundraising element, Mitrik noted that the shirts also commemorate his and the general student body’s view of the SVC’s president, saying, “Since it was the iconic figure of Br. Norman, I thought that that might be a good way to broadcast our admiration for him and how we like how things are going right now as a student body.”
Mitrik added, “If we have any advocate, it’s definitely Br. Norman himself.” After Br. Norman gave permission to use his likeness, he bought about 30 shirts for his family, who told him that they wanted to have some of the shirts.
Norman said that the experience is unlike any he’s had before but is one that “goes with the territory” of holding the public office of president. “If it served a [helpful] purpose for them,” said Br. Norman, “why not?”
“It seemed not unlike the picture [of me] that’s held up on a pole at some of the sporting events,” Br. Norman said, “and… [provided] an opportunity for me to be supportive of their initiative.” He added that he sees the idea as “a kind of a positive statement of or symbol from the student side, an expression of some positive relationship between my office and the students.” He believes that the shirts particularly exemplify that the students “felt comfortable enough to suggest doing it.”
“I’m not a person that I’m enthusiastic about my picture,” Br. Norman said, but felt that “the combination of my last name as I guess the definition that you find in the Urban Dictionary, and this notion of horn-rimmed glasses,” was appropriate to a picture one might find of him “if you go back to my high school days, except there wasn’t a beard then and the hair was darker.”
As for his own perception of a hipster, he said, “My recollection was that [a hipster] was somewhat of a nerd, often someone that’s interested in maybe math and science or technology, or less concerned about what they’re wearing; somebody that kind of liked the sixties.”
Br. Norman said that that, while he probably would not consider himself a trendsetter, “I would say that there are some traits [I have] that would be common to that definition [of a hipster].”