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Battle of the Brains

Students and professors compete. (Lianna Lazur / Photo Editor)

Some of the greatest minds of the 21st century congregated this Monday, Feb. 11 at the College. These incredible brains gathered in one meeting place for the noblest of purposes — to compete against each other for a shiny trophy.

In the College’s first annual Battle of the Brains competition, hosted by Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society, and also known as the Interdepartmental Professor Bowl, teams representing six different honors societies — history, women’s and gender studies, chemistry, English, Spanish and a joint political science/international studies squad — battled it out in order to win the grand prizes of pride, money toward the charity of their choosing and, of course, the trophy.

The initial idea for the Jeopardy-style competition came from the history honor society’s semesterly Professor Bowl, which MJ Dempsey, a senior history and international studies double major and one of the event’s two primary organizers, expanded to include competition from other schools of study.

“Every semester, we had this day where students would gather with professors and have fun,” Dempsey said. “And it was always our most successful event, so I figured we might as well make it bigger and better.”

“We wanted to hold a trivia competition between all of the honors societies, less history-related than our usual Bowl in the interest of fairness, and we managed to pull it off,” said Matt Ritsko, a junior history and secondary education double major who was the other primary show runner.

The event did not draw an overwhelming crowd, but certain important on-campus figures, such as Dean Rifkin of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, were in attendance.

“I was very excited about this event,” Rifkin said. “This is the kind of event that I’m so happy to see on campus, bringing faculty and students together in academic engagement.”

In the competition itself, teams were quizzed on their knowledge in a variety of subjects, including world languages, potent potables (mixed drinks for the uninformed, which Dean Rifkin was pleased to discover students lacked knowledge of) and, of course, Batman villains.

Students who attended earned additional points for their respective teams by showing up wearing their teams’ colors, in an effort to foster team spirit and unity.

After a spirited competition, the eventual champions were the members of the history honors society. As a result, the proceeds from the event, $150 in total from donations from the honors societies and members of the audience, went to, an organization which gives money to developing small businesses around the world.

“It was great fun,” said Robert McGreevey, the winning team’s resident professor. “The best part is the faculty and students working together.” McGreevey was joined in the victory by freshman history and philosophy double major Sam Fogelgaren, freshman history and secondary education double major Andrew Seeber, sophomore history major Caitlin Diesner, senior elementary education and history double major Erica Csimbok, and senior history major Meghan Brennan in the victory.

Event organizers were certainly happy with the final result.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” said Kyle Romero, senior history major and president of the history honors society, who served as Emcee for the competition. “I think it went great, and I’m very happy that we pulled this thing off.”

“We’re hoping to turn this into at least a yearly event,” Ritsko said. “Possibly every semester, but we want this to be special, so we’ll probably stick with the annual format.”


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