On September 9 between approximately 12:48 and 12:55 p.m., students may have noticed some unusual activity taking place in the academic quad. The Communication Studies department along with the Center for Group Dynamics under the direction of Professor Mary Braz conducted a “flash mob” demonstration which they called Frozen Quad.
A flash mob which has recently become a world phenomenon is a new kind of group characterized by lack of history or future interaction that is brought together through communication via new media.
Frozen Quad consisted of a group of just under 100 students, mostly communication studies and theater majors. Students gathered in the academic quad between Main Hall and the library in various frozen positions.
Some students position themselves in a group “frozen” passing flowers between them while another student sat on a bench “frozen” while eating ice cream.
Participating students were given little information when they gathered at the arch at 12:40 p.m. They were told to disperse throughout the quad and stay “frozen” in their various poses for about seven minutes.
Throughout those seven minutes, two cameramen captured reactions from both participants and passerby students.
The purpose of a flash mob is to have a group of individuals gather in violation of a social norm. Groups have social norms that are followed and broken on a daily basis.
One of the pioneer groups in the art of flash mobs called Improv Everywhere created a flash mob called frozen Grand Central, on which West Chester based our flash mob.
In this exercise, 207 people stood completely still in the center of New York City’s Grand Central Station.
The point of the exercise was defy the social norm of being busy and stand completely still in the middle of one of the country’s busiest locations.
West Chester was trying to violate the same social norm by choosing to stand still in one the busiest places on campus during an extremely busy time.
“People will be in a hurry. It’s a violation to be standing still.” Braz said.
West Chester will hold another frozen quad on October 14 in the same location.
On October 28 at 7 p.m. in Schmucker Science Link room 151, the Communication Studies Department and the Center for Group Dynamics will be hosting a panel of the topic of flash mob.
Rob Lathan, a representative of Improv Everywhere will be on campus to speak about the positive aspects of identifying and defying social norms through flash mob.
There will also be a Philadelphia Police Officer on the panel to discuss to talk about the dark side of performing flash mobs, for example, recreating protests, riots and other acts that turned violent.
If students missed last month’s flash mob they can access it via Youtube by typing in Frozen Quad – West Chester University.
Improv Everywhere’s Frozen Grand Central can also be accessed through Youtube along with other flash mobs they have put on.
Students wishing to participate in the upcoming Frozen Quad, should email Professor Mary Braz at MBraz@wcupa.edu.
Samantha Greenberg is a third-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at SG655862@wcupa.edu.