PHOTO: Olds and Koon residences practice their routine for Mock Rock in Roche Sports Complex’s upper fitness studio. (Madeline Barry/Collegian)

The Hillsdale College community gathered in the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena on Saturday to take part in our most treasured homecoming tradition: Mock Rock. The judges treated us to a display of negative comments that left many in the crowd with a bad taste in their mouths.

Mock Rock needs a carefully selected panel of judges and a better approach to evaluation that rewards creativity.

The three judges were negative and treated some of the acts with unbecoming disdain. The comments from the judge’s table became progressively incoherent as the night progressed.

Based on the judge’s words, one would think some of the most entertaining acts of the night were complete failures. In particular, sophomore Mitchell Biggs’ rendition of Napoleon Dynamite’s iconic dance received a roaring applause from the audience but only negativity and rudeness from the judges.

The Pi Beta Phi performance received a similar review when the judges didn’t sympathize with the technical problems that plagued Mock Rock all night. They disparaged the women of Pi Phi for a well-executed performance done with barely-audible music — an impressive feat in itself.

Yet, the audience gave a warm reception to both Biggs’ and the Pi Phi’s performances, despite the negativity of the judges. After delivering negative comments about some of the acts, for which the audience had cheered, the crowd responded to the judges with a chorus of boos.

As the event continued, the judges only became more out of sync with the sentiments of the crowd.  Emcee Meghan Cain did Hillsdale a service by stopping the post-performance interviews of the judges, preventing more cringe-worthy material from being said.

Mock Rock performances require many hours to practice and perfect. It cheats the performers out of hard work if the judges do not show up to do their jobs. The sloppiness and rude comments from the judges were not appreciated.

We should have seen judging that recognizes talented acts and rewards unique productions.

At Mock Rock, we expect acts with stunts and well-executed dancing, but even more so, we love surprises, such as Biggs’ dance. When one man can get the entire basketball stadium rocking, I believe he should have received more than just a write-off from the judges.

Or take another surprising performance by the Paul House.

The ladies of the Paul House utilized the talents of Jordan Wales, assistant professor of theology, to amaze the crowd. It’s awesome that a Hillsdale professor took his precious time to do Mock Rock with his students. This was a unique angle, and it should be rewarded accordingly.

Both acts took creative license and received standing ovations. What more can a Mock Rock performance do than have the crowd on its feet in appreciation? And what can be more irritating than a panel of judges who cannot appreciate creativity?

It is hard to take the final results seriously when the judges could not recognize a good Mock Rock performance. It’s also unfortunate that Mock Rock rarely rewards performances for thinking outside of the box.

Beyond some mediocre attempts at humor, I saw no purpose to the judging panel on Saturday night. Their assessment of the acts, or lack thereof, left a lot to be desired.

I expect that Mock Rock’s judges in the future will care more about the quality of the performance and the reaction of the crowd.


Nainoa Johsens is a senior studying political economy.

  • Jennifer Melfi

    name the judges?