What’s in a name?

The Pow Wow. It means different things to different people—it’s a place to hang out, eat, do homework, meet people, kill time and work (notice how I put the last two things together).

Unfortunately, it has a name which is offensive to some. So the Holmes Student Center staff decided to change the name, but, being the clever people they are, they burdened the NIU community with the enormous task of coming up with the new name.

Sure, they offer a reward of $50 in free food for the best name, but it doesn’t compare with the difficulty of making up the name. Naming something is probably more difficult than creating it in the first place. This is especially true with babies, but that has nothing to do with the Pow Wow.

If you think of the great responsibility of naming stuff, it might astonish you. Not only will the thing have to live with the name you give it, so will you. Every time the name is spoken, it will directly reflect on you. A name is a label, an identification which everyone associates the thing with. The consequences of a bad name are staggering.

When I was a young boy, I heard a story of the first human, a guy named Adam, who lived in a paradise (or garden or something). His job was to walk around naming everything. Even though I knew this was only a fairy tale, I felt sorry for the poor guy. I had nightmares where I was the one who had to decide which creature would be a laughing hyena and which would be an alligator. I always messed it up. So, I couldn’t blame the guy in the story when he gave in to temptation. Anyway …

Anyone who submits an entry to the “Rename the Pow Wow Contest” should keep in mind that it is a very important historical decision. If you are like me, this entire business upsets you, but the idea of all that free food is still enticing. Here are some ideas when deciding on a name:

‘Although it would be cute to have a name associated with the school mascot, most people won’t want to eat at a place with connotations of dogs or dog food. So, the Dog Bowl or the Bow Wow won’t cut it.

It would be cool to create a forced emotive response in the employees based on a name like the Happy Place or the Smiling Cafe. If you came in and the people flipping burgers were grumpy, you could scold them, “Tsk, tsk … you are not very happy today.”

A name that calls for cool decor (like the Moon Cafe) would be a good idea—it would give the place a visual identity and an added atmosphere (heh). And you could say, “I’ll meet you at the Moon.”

Even though there are approximately 15 women named Mary at the student center food service, a name like Mary’s Diner would alienate all the non-Marys, so don’t do it.

Whatever you decide on, make sure you submit it by March 6. And if you win, make sure you buy me lunch—I’m starving.