College is the time for experimenting, whether with hair or drinking, everyone experiments. It is a time where you don’t have overbearing parents breathing down your neck. For the most part parents are at least at arm’s distance away, if not further. Students can get to class via unicycle or “hover board,” a self-balancing board with two wheels and no handle bars. Most colleges have no formal dress code which allows students to dress however they want to class, unlike high schools who have ridged, strict dress code policies. Given this shift in freedom of expression, there is a greater variety of styles found on college campuses.
Griffin Burks is not an exception to have a distinct style. Burks is a freshman at The University of Alabama, who dresses like Indian Jones every day. He wears a leather jacket with a dark colored shirt and khaki pants topped with a tan fedora hat. Everything a guy would need to be mistaken for Indy minus a whip. I have seen Burks around campus on multiple occasions and at first thought maybe I was just seeing things, but I asked some people if they have seen Indiana Jones on campus and they all knew who I was talking about. When I asked him for an interview Burks seem unfazed by the idea.
We meet at Starbucks for the interview and sat outside near the fountain, which turned out to be not the best idea because when the wind picked up the water from the fountain came right toward me and got my paper and glasses wet. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe the sounds of the Ferg fountain was not right ambiance for this interview. The trademark Indiana Jones theme started playing in my head and I had to fight the urge to hum it while talking to Burks. As I walked towards the Ferg to meet Burks I knew whatever I was wearing would not be fit to sit adjacent with the fella who dresses like Indiana Jones on the daily.
However, once I sat down with him I realized he was not actually Indiana Jones, he is just another student at UA. I was just sitting down across from a fellow sleep deprived student drinking a Venti Caramel Double-shot Macchiato with whip cream. Burks got a jacket from his father when he was in 7th grade. It was his father’s motorcycle jacket when he was in college and decided to give it to Burks when he found it with some old stuff and realized it didn’t fit himself anymore. Ever since then Burks has worn the brown leather jacket.
He never had the intention to dress like Indiana Jones, but more so fell into the same clothes as the legendary George Lucas’ character. Burks later went to a high school with a ridiculously strict dress code. Students were only allowed to wear solid colors, any patterns or prints on the shirt were against dress code, so wearing a plain leather jacket fit in with the policy and Burks never had to change his trend. The jacket looks a little worn and given its age it is expected. The seams are a little lighter brown compared to other parts of the jacket.
He found his first hat at a local outlet, then upgraded it to the well-known fedora hat he has now. His shirts are from Ralph Lauren and his pants are simple khakis. He started this trend in middle school and it has followed him to college except Burks says he has, “dressed it up” since starting college being allowed to wear the Indiana Jones hat too. Before he commits his soul to being ‘Indiana Jones Guy,’ he wore just plain jeans and a t-shirt. He moved to 14 different schools when he was younger, but once he found his style it stuck with him though all the uncomfortable jumps from school to school.
I was shocked when I found out that Burks did not aim to dress like Indiana Jones, but it was just a style of clothing he wore on accident together and liked it. I talked to Emma Junck, another student at UA, about Burks. She knew who I was talking about the second I mentioned a man who dresses like Indiana Jones. She thought “it’s cool he didn’t care what other people think and wears the same classic adventurer outfit every day. Also he is rocking that Indiana Jones hat. ” She was also intrigued to know why he dressed in Indiana Jones get\-up.
After my interview, I told Junck that it was just a coincidence. She was a little disappointed by the reasoning because she was “expecting a long, elaborate story of a kid whose life was changed by the vintage 80s movie character. ” However, she still thinks that Burk is, in his own way, making others feel more confident in their person style, no matter how strange or different it may be from the typical college attire of Nike shorts and oversized t-shirts or plain red Polos with khakis and New Balances.
Burks surprisingly said he never had much problem with being bullied for his outfit while in middle and high school, but has been told that he was getting some strange looks while walking around campus, however he never really notices them. He has also gotten a few comments from passing cars making references to the Indiana Jones movies. Even though he never intended to dress like Indy he has seen the movies and hinted that he does idolized this character for being the “first real geek seen as a bad ass. He is almost a staple persona on campus being referred to as Indiana Jones and he just “rolls with it. ”
Burks frequently plays his guitar outside of the Ferg on most nights with his case strategically placed open in front of him awaiting anything that might fall inside of it, like currency. He also plays his trumpet, which he perfected while part of the marching band in high school, outside of Paty Hall on Saturday mornings. He sees a lot of people go by wearing everything from a girl in a cow onesie to a guy in a business suit.
Nothing really strikes him as odd because” the most important thing is that they are wearing clothes. ” His nonchalant attitude to life and other people’s opinion left me feeling like I cared too much about what others thought of me. I always tried my best to just be myself, but I have been guilty of comparing myself to other and keeping up with trends to look like I fit in. Yet, I realized over time that even if I dressed the same as the cool kids that does not mean we act the same. Wearing Crocs with socks isn’t going to make or break someone wanting to be your friend, well at least a true friend.
Name brands and current trends does not define character so why not mess around with wearing all black one day and neon the next. Burks does not think much about wearing the same monochromatic clothes every day and never intended to be a well-known person on campus by his clothing, however style fits perfectly in the college atmosphere. Students do not have time anymore to sit and worry about what others are wearing. College is probably the first time students hear a teacher curse and the professor carries on without missing a beat.
College allows people the time to try things without being judged too much, because everyone is trying to figure who they are too. College is the perfect time to dye your hair every color available, including neon, or to wear the heels your parents would never sanction you to buy. It is the perfect little bubble between adolescences and adulthood where everyone gets to have more freedom than they had before and also less responsibilities than they will have later in life. It is four years, or if you are really determined five years, of pure exploration.