By Alex Marino, Staff Writer
At the core of the Thunderbird mystique is the deeply-rooted unity among current students, alumni, and faculty who acknowledge and embrace the special responsibility T-birds pledge to carry. This special responsibility endowed to our select group who share a unique perspective on global human relations and sustainable development unites us under a common identity and unbreakable bond. T-birds are diverse in character and ethnicity, yet innately unified in that they all carry this internal perspective and mentality driving them to make an impact in the world. With that said, every core has a life source from which the foundation is established, nurtured, and developed, and it’s at this source that all the prevailing elements draw their strength or mystique. Thunderbird’s foundational core linking the current generation to its globally expansive network is the T-bird Pub. The Pub stands as the cultural bedrock of the Thunderbird community where life-long friendships, partnerships, and networks are established and preserved. The walls bear the deep and diverse history of T-bird relations, and the stimulating conversations add an unparalleled element to our global education.
In response to the recent ASU-Thunderbird merger, we willfully rage an uphill battle to maintain the academic prestige and preserve the reputational value of Thunderbird, most importantly to protect the familial network between alumni and students. At the heart of this struggle is the unifying core, the T-bird Pub. It’s the hub where generations of T-bird graduates created their global networks and life-long relationships over a bottle of scotch or pint of beer while celebrating cultural events that reflect the student bodies diverse heritages and traditions. However, recent attendance at Pub nights dropped to an unprecedented low as a result of reduced enrollment rates and student focus towards restructuring program curriculums. Graduating students and alumni expressed worrisome concerns as they witnessed a once thriving and vibrant core replaced with an eerily vacant space during prime time hours. The expectation of all T-birds is that the cultural interconnectedness they experienced in their time, will continue as an ongoing tradition connecting them to current students, especially when they find themselves on the other side of the world. This underlying cultural connectivity is what gives the alumni network the confidence to vouch for Thunderbird graduates as they enter the global workforce. In light of these concerns and shift in temperament, several students, with guiding inspiration from recent graduates, initiated a movement to hold themed pub nights reflecting traditional events and eras. Thus far three successful themed events, 80’s Shag Down at the Pub, Mardi Gras Celebration, and Chinese New Year, have launched the movement to revive the Thunderbird core. I recap the first two of the themed events below.
80’s Shag Down at the Pub: To kick-off themed pub revival nights we decided to share an eccentric period in American history with an 80’s Shag Down at the Pub. The invite read “Groove back in time at the T-bird pub and get your 80’s funk on. Shine your shoes, bring your vibe and set the floor on fire! If not, you trippin’”, and featured T-birds dancing the night away to the BeeGee’s and Parliament Funkadelic under the simmering glow of an electronic disco ball. Vibrant costumes displayed student creativity and desire to engage in more expressive pub nights, and after all, it’s nice to have something other than recent updates from the Economist or Financial Times to reminisce at the end of a semester.
Mardi Gras Celebration: Just in time for a follow-up from the 80’s Shag Down came the world famous New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration. As a native New Oreleanian missing Mardi Gras for the first time in 20 years, I felt compelled to bring this cultural tradition to the Thunderbird Pub and share the rich tradition with T-birds. The invite read as follows, “It’s carnival season in New Orleans and Brazil and we’d love to bring this exciting cultural experience to Thunderbird. Join us at the pub this Thursday night to indulge in King Cake, the traditional Mardi Gras dessert, while parading around in coveted beads and vibrant masks. No themed attire is required and accessories will be provided. Hope to see you all there to share in this historical tradition.” It’s appropriate that I give a special acknowledgment to my mother, Cindy Marino, for supplying Mardi Gras beads, designs, masks, and king cake to bring this Louisiana cultural experience to life in Glendale. Thanks mom!
Pub nights at Thunderbird are not a typical cut-loose bar scene for graduate students to unwind from strenuous testing and classes, but rather a heightened social gathering of innovative entrepreneurs, intellectuals, global business CEOs, and future world leaders all fostering life-long personal and professional relationships. The pub environment feels like home because as we re-establish ourselves as global citizens, our identities are deeply-rooted in the Thunderbird mystique, and sourced from the connections developed in the pub. The pub revival movement will rage forward as we redefine the institution in this transitional period, and we hope to see you there to share in the experiences. Be on the lookout for upcoming themed events including Latin American dance night this Thursday!