Real to Reel: Hints of Truth in College Movies?

Some of our favorite movies here at CO-ED are ones involving college (how’d you guess?). Besides Snakes on a Plane, we love to quote our favorite lines &#39 sometimes, we even re-enact scenes (after hours, of course). They say the funniest things in life are based on fact, and that really piqued our interest: How factual are our favorite college movies?

Dead Man on Campus (1998): Two freshman roommates, played by Tom Everett Scott and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (a.k.a. Saved by the Bell’s Zack Morris), over-party to the verge of failing out. Both learn of a forgotten loophole at their university that automatically awards straight As to a student, if his roommate commits suicide. So the two guys hunt for a third roommate on the edge of emotional collapse.

Is there any truth to this?

Unfortunately, the rumor is pure fiction. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, no school has ever had such a policy. Most schools allow students to postpone exams or appeal grades when they&#39ve experienced a tragedy at some point during a semester (like the death of a roommate). But no one has ever gotten straight As. We must admit, dying does, however, come in handy from time to time.

PCU (1994): A cult classic, PCU tells the story of a group of party animals raging against an uptight dean, who’s trying to kick them off campus. Jeremy Piven (of current Entourage fame) steals the show as hardcore-partier Droz, who drops the pearl of wisdom &#39you can major in Game Boy if you know how to bulls–t.&#39 But we put the question out there: Can you really major in Game Boy?

Although creative majoring is exaggerated in the movie, more and more colleges are allowing students to design their own majors. Undergrads have the option of mixing courses together into their very own major succotash. At Connecticut College, which allows self-designed majors, students are even eligible for a $3,000 grant for the summer before their senior year. According to Art McCann, assistant director of admissions, the funds &#39can be used to intern at a bank while living in New York or travel to New Zealand to study base jumping.&#39 May we suggest spending the grant money on studying the effects of a certain handheld video game?

Van Wilder (2002): Van Wilder loves college, so much so that he’s been there for seven years. But can you actually be a college student for seven years or more? Don’t you have to leave at some point?

This is entirely possible. Read our interview with Johnny Lechner in Issue 7, on newsstands in late August and featuring Dane Cook. Lechner will be beginning his 13th and final (?) year at University of Wisconsin&#39Whitewater this fall. For more information about Johnny, check out

Old School (2003): Practically required viewing for anyone in college today, Old School follows three middle-aged friends who start their own fraternity at the local college and fight for good times (against an uptight dean, played by Jeremy Piven &#39 how ironic, given his role in PCU). &#39To start a fraternity like how they depicted it,&#39 says John Custis, the director of chapter operations for Delta Upsilon, &#39is pretty inaccurate. To begin a chapter in this day and age, you need to be associated with a national or international organization.&#39 So, unfortunately, you can&#39t simply invite Snoop Dog and a few hundred people over to a house and call it a fraternity.

Animal House (1978): This movie inspired so many college-bound students to pursue their higher calling: drinking with a sheet wrapped around them. Hilarity ensues as Delta house fights against the uptight dean of Faber College (is anyone sensing a pattern here?). But is Animal House an accurate depiction of Greek life?

&#39I definitely think it creates a stereotype of fraternities,&#39 says Peter Skelly, former president of the University of Virginia&#39s Theta Chi chapter. &#39The only major press fraternities receive these days is from Animal House-esque stunts &#39 rather than for the good they provide their communities.&#39 Skelly can’t think of a single fraternity at UVA that didn&#39t have an annual community service project. It&#39s hard to imagine Bluto or Flounder helping out in a soup kitchen.

But when asked if he&#39d ever been to a toga party, Skelly simply responded, &#39Yes, I have.&#39

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