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  • The Sigma Pi fraternity house on a quiet Monday morning in Chico on Feb. 26. Photo taken by Molly Myers.

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    Fraternity Sigma Pi hit with hazing investigation

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    Connect your mind and body at the WREC

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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

An ode to Chico 

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‘School Spirit’ by Kit Beauchamp created with Freepik AI 

The year is 2033. All the water fountains have been replaced with rocket fuel. Keg Stands are a division one sport. There is not a single couch left uncharred within Chico city limits. 

Respectable majors such as business and mathematics have gone the way of the dodo, replaced by “relaxation studies” and “how to steal a catalytic converter.” 

The library has been commandeered as another frat house. It’s open from noon until happy hour every day [instead of just on the weekends], and the books are only used to make forts. 

The administration lives in luxury condos in what used to be Whitney Hall, sipping champagne and eating caviar. The lecturers and teachers have moved into frat row, where they arm wrestle for food stamps and pizza crusts. 

Mayor Andrew Coolidge flies over the town on his police drone and emits a long, blood-curdling shriek. God has forsaken us. 

My eyes pop open and thank heavens! It was all a dream. Or was it… 

I stroll across the bridge toward the center of campus. Leaves of red, orange and gold descend from the trees, forming clumps like old confetti the day after it’s thrown. 

Like many of my peers, I’m at the cusp of starting a new life, leaving college behind in search of greener pastures. It’s difficult to encapsulate these complex feelings of hope, fear and melancholy. 

So come with me on a journey, won’t you please? Let’s take a trip around the block, reminisce and soak in the sights and sounds of the “City of Trees.” 

I walk past Trinity Commons, the site of so many great campus events: Live music, mock carnivals, pop-up petting zoos and scores of political demonstrations. 

I am in awe of the natural beauty of the campus. Its austere brick buildings, lush greenery and Chico Creek split down the middle. I love gazing up at the Bell Tower, reliably ringing either a minute early or late.  

Butte Station has the best deal on coffee, I’d recommend the hazelnut blend. 

The Wildcat Store has everything you could possibly need: Yoga mats, supplements, iPads, class rings and more. But if you need a jimmy hat you’re fresh out of luck! Instead, head back to Butte Station. 

The library I hold a lot of affection for. I like the corner areas, where the sun shines down on you on the second and fourth floors. 

The study rooms that you don’t make a reservation for; are a ticking time bomb until you get politely kicked out by a couple of timid students. 

The library entrance doors everyone uses to exit, much to the chagrin of the staff. 

I walk to The Wildcat Recreation Center, the shining jewel of Chico State. I’m gonna miss waiting slightly too long for my barcode login to load, while others walk past me. 

The changing in the locker rooms, inadvertently picking up bits of conversation about what “get ripped quick” diet some freshmen are on, or what “the party” was like last night. The toilets flush automatically two or three times while you’re still peeing. 

I love the WREC. I’m even gonna miss it at its busiest times when the place is so packed, the whole gym is like a living, breathing organism. 

Outside, the train rolls through town, yodeling its noisy song for all to hear, a celebration of steel and noise pollution. But enough school, I need a drink … 

I feel a chill as the secret tunnels underneath Chico beckon me. I take the tunnel connecting the haunted Laxson Auditorium to Riley’s

The place just isn’t the same during the day; It’s best to come between 9 and midnight on the weekends. Make a new friend standing in line for an hour. Tango on that sticky floor, drink something blue out of a pitcher. Enjoy the wall of noise annihilating your thinking, worrying brain.

Be careful not to upset the fleet of secret service boys there to protect the ladies. And definitely don’t look them directly in the eye; my friend tried that once and now he eats his meals through a tube. 

Tacos Mary afterward to soak up some of that blue poison. I wonder if they ever have sober customers. 

Stepping outside, the sweet, tangy aroma of a freshly burning couch floats by. Daylight offends my eyes, I blink twice and look around. 

The low, pervasive whum of bassy music flows through the streets south of campus.

Pie eating contests and tour de Franzia. Laughter and excitement around the tables. Pledges in ill-fitting suits run past, gripped with fear. 

Bassy trap music fades as I walk eastbound. 

Like the warm embrace of a large mammal, “The Bear” is almost a second home. I met some friends for pitchers there. 

The vast collection of zany crap up on the walls tells a story; Somewhere between an “eye spy” mystery and an episode of hoarders. 

Classic rock blasts over the stereo occasionally interrupted mid-chorus by “Kyle, we have a bear burger ready with a side of ranch. Kyle, your food is ready.” 

The party continues at Argus, where a cocktail costs about $15 … it’s “The Lord of The Rings” in the background you’re paying for. Chico pro-tip: Order a gin and tonic or tequila soda, they cost half as much. 

Suddenly I feel overwhelmed, I need a break from this madness. Upper Bidwell would do the trick. But I’ve imbibed too much to drive, so I hail a ride from the Chico State Rowing Club, going upriver on Chico Creek. 

This deus ex machina delivers me to the wonderful dirt patch that is Upper Bidwell. Ah, my place of respite, where I go to get away from it all. 

Gun claps from the shooting range ring out over Horseshoe Lake. For perhaps the hundredth time, I climb Monkey Face and sit atop drinking in the sunset. That view of the mountains off in the distance, the long plateau of the Sacramento Valley, the blinking lights burned into my brain. 

Eventually, I hail a stray campus connection car, and the junior police cadets drive me back downtown.

It’s Thursday night, and I walk around the Farmers Market. A magician delights a crowd of families on Third and Broadway. It’s times like these that I’m reminded of the charm of this little town.

At last it’s time to go. As the town shrinks in my rearview mirror, a tear forms in my eye; I should have rinsed them out after that couch smoke.  

I’ll miss this strange place. It’s like the city that never sleeps, and seldom studies either. 

Cheers, Wildcats.

 

Kit Beauchamp can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Kit Beauchamp, Reporter
Kit Beauchamp is a Communications Major at Chico State University. Originally from Fairfax, CA, he transferred to Chico from Santa Barbara City College following the Covid-19 pandemic. Kit has always been interested in writing and journalism, and this is his first semester writing for The Orion. He hopes to use his platform to give voice to all facets of the student body, shed light on interesting and relevant topics, and present the unbiased truth. In his spare time, Kit enjoys music, fried foods, run-on sentences and looking at colorful birds.    

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