By Rachel Michelman
With a surge of COVID-19 cases in California and a majority of classes taking place remotely, the University of Southern California has acquired the widely popular online game Club Penguin, which will now be used as a platform for students to connect, socialize, and buy exclusive Trojan merchandise in the Club Penguin store.
USC acquired the rights from the Walt Disney Company for 175 million dollars. Head football coach Clay Helton admitted the purchase was his idea, since the University will not be able to exploit student athletes for profit this fall. “We needed to find an alternative to relying solely on Slovis’s passes. He’ll now be hosting meet and greets at the Ice Rink,” reported Helton.
According to Charles F. Zukoski, USC’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, “We wanted to give the students a legitimate reason for why we raised tuition by 3.5 percent. It’s something familiar that will remind them of their childhoods — besides living in their parents’ homes.”
In a new email sent out to students, President Carol Folt declared that she wanted to “honor the Trojan community” by modifying the multiplayer game. She declares, “The new virtual quad will allow USC students to do what they do best: walk down Trousdale, compete in games, and dig for SCoins, the new proprietary currency of USC!”
Controversy has surrounded the site’s development; students expressed concerns about the high cost of adopting puffles and purchasing clothes, as well as the 50% tax on all SCoins dug by students. In a memorandum sent to students, the design team explained that the added costs were worthwhile, declaring that “even if it takes many long work-study shifts in the coin mines, showing your SChool spirit is worthwhile!”
President Folt reassured that anyone in the local South Central community who also wanted a virtual alternative to the usual school year would be able to sign up for a free version, in which they can be randomly evicted from their igloos, woken up in the middle of the night by “Mo Bamba,” and harassed by the Department of Puffle Safety.