What the hell is “Turn Tartan Overnight”?


One of the best things that Carnegie Mellon has had for quite some time has been Sleeping Bag Weekend. When I was looking at colleges in the late 80s, I went to a Sleeping Bag Weekend at CMU, and it pretty much sealed the deal for me. I got to stay with a couple of current students with similar interests, visit some classes, and see the campus.

Later, when I worked at the admissions office, I helped out with Sleeping Bag Weekend. The attendees were affectionately referred to as “Baggers.” We started a semi-tradition of hanging out with “abandoned baggers” whose host students forgot about them or ignored them. Later on, many of us who went to such a weekend would say things like, “Yeah, I was a bagger.” It also brought a sense of pride when you’d run into a new student who was your bagger and decided to come to CMU, in part, because of your influence.

Well, as is typical of my beloved alma mater sometimes, they’ve pretty much dumped “Sleeping Bag Weekend” for (sarcastic drum roll, please) “Turn Tartan Overnight Weekend.”

What the !@#$ does that mean? Is it supposed to be some transformative experience? What if a student just wants to check out the campus? What do they call the attendees now? Tartan Turners? Overnighters? TTOs? How can it be an overnight thing if it’s a weekend? It doesn’t even roll off the tongue properly.

As a friend of mine pointed out, they took a strong brand, known by staff, students, alumni, prospective students and the like, and threw it away.

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