Cookie Bell Chaos: Pavlov’s Grip on Ursinus

Disclaimer: this article was written for the April 1st issue and is a part of The Goofly. This Grizzly issue is satirical.

Chaos erupted in Upper Wismer during lunch this Friday in what one student, Aaron Dingle ‘26 described as “a psycho flashmob that started after the cookie bell was rung.” According to Wismer staffers at the scene, as soon as the dessert station bell rang, which alerts students to the newest batch of fresh cookies, about 80 students rose up out of their chairs and started a choreographed flash mob to the song playing over the radio speakers, “Moves like Jagger” by the pop band Maroon 5. Bryan Thompson, a Wismer grill staffer, said “All of the sudden, the bell rang and a bunch of kids started singing Adam Levine. Weird as hell. They had this dance that was synchronized – they looked like some professional troupe.”

It was a curious scene to watch, as about half of the students in the cafeteria seemed to be immune to whatever psychological response the cookie bell elicited in the flash mob. One of the students who was not a part of the flash mob, Randy Lahey ‘25, said “These kids who get up every time the bell rings, they look like sheep – but that flash mob, that was a whole different level. I don’t know what the hell that was.” Another onlooker, Jon Dess ‘23, said “I never get up for that stupid fucking bell, and I really think it was installed as some neutral stimulus thing to indoctrinate us with liberal ideology.” 

While that claim of indoctrination hasn’t been confirmed, one student’s description of a “black-out” that overtook them after the bell rang does point to Pavlov’s experiment of a neutral stimulus. That student, Bill Loney ‘24, said “I don’t even remember getting up and dancing. I don’t think I’ve heard that song [“Moves like Jagger”] since like fifth grade, and suddenly I just knew all the words and the dance moves. I don’t remember a single thing from the videos I saw on Instagram and Snapchat – it was like I blacked out.”

The videos the student referenced show students in perfect synchronization as the “Moves like Jagger” played throughout the cafeteria. Pavlov’s experiment of neutral stimulus first elicits no response, but when the neutral stimulus, in this case the cookie bell, is paired up with an unconditioned stimulus like hunger, the combination can lead to an automatic response. In this case, that automatic response, seemingly caused by the ringing of the cookie bell, was students dancing in a flash-mob to the hit song by Maroon 5. 

One student who participated in the flash mob, who chose to remain anonymous, said “I haven’t gone back to Upper [Wismer] since. What if they play ‘Moves like Jagger’ again? I couldn’t face myself if that happened again. I’ve always hated that song, but now it’s just different – kind of, traumatic even.”

Even some teachers were seen joining in on the dance. Dr. Wayne Kerr of the English Department denied ever being in Wismer that day, despite video evidence of him dancing along to the flash mob. He said, “I wasn’t in Wismer. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” When faced with the video of him ‘breaking it down’ on a cafeteria table top, he replied, “Haven’t you ever heard of a deep fake video? That’s what that is. I don’t even like Maroon 5.” Another professor, Dr. Anita Dump of the Biology Department, said “I’m truly ashamed at what students had to witness in that cafeteria. My behavior was beyond inexcusable, but as a tenured professor, I hope the Deans will have mercy and understand the incredibly complex situation of that day.”

Some students remain undaunted and have continued to eat the warm chocolate chip cookies that the bell ring announces. In fact, according to one dessert station staffer, Harry Azcrak, “We’ve had to increase cookie output to meet the increased demand. Students are becoming angrier and angrier if there aren’t enough cookies available, but at this rate, it seems like students are eating 6-8 cookies per meal.”

Wismer has even added chocolate chip cookies on to the breakfast menu, but, Maya Butreekz, the nutritional coach hired to monitor dietary health at Ursinus said, “The cookies at breakfast measure is just a temporary solution until we wean off those students that are becoming increasingly dependent on the cookies to cope with what seems like a mental health situation.” According to Butreekzs’ observation, the increased cookie consumption could be owed to the stress levels that Ursinus students face as liberal arts undergraduates.

Dean of Students Missy Bryant said, “We are currently looking into the possible causes for the flash mob, as well as possible solutions to the cookie addiction that seems to be plaguing the students.” While the school itself has not been ruled out as the party responsible for either the flash mob or the increased cookie consumption among students, The Goofly will continue to investigate the matter. Until then, if you hear Maroon 5 playing in Wismer, senior Bill Loney advises that you “Run like hell. You don’t want to be caught up in a flash mob like I was. It does things to you.”