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Meet the Student from “The Patrick Shirt”

January 7, 2022

It started as a gag gift and was intended to be a dorm-room decoration. Instead, the Patrick Shirt has become somewhat of a staple of campus life this school year at The College of Idaho.

As a kid, Patrick Mark joined the tradition of Aloha Friday, wearing a Hawaiian-themed shirt each week no matter the season. This trend continued through high school and his years at the College. This past summer, a friend bought a Hawaiian shirt adorned with the junior’s face and that’s where the story begins.

“I saw it, I fell in love with it, but I wasn’t planning on wearing it,” said Mark, who is double-majoring in business administration and biomedical sciences.

He brought the shirt with him to campus in August, planning to use it as a decoration in his Simplot Hall dorm room. As he unpacked, his roommate saw it.

“I said, Patrick, I will wear that on the first day of school,” senior Josh Andersen joked.

Which he did. Then, as the two stood near the Clocktower on the Quad waiting to get their First-Day-of-School photos taken, something funny happened. Friends liked the shirt so much, they asked if they could wear the shirt. Andersen, a political economy major, took charge of the Patrick Shirt, creating a list of friends who would wear the shirt each Wednesday. The list quickly grew beyond the circle of friends.

“Others would say they saw the Patrick Shirt and they wanted to get on the list,” Andersen said. “It became a word-of-mouth thing.”

The list grew. Along with filling each Wednesday, the Patrick Shirt started making rounds on selected Fridays as well. Students would wear the shirt and then return it to Andersen so he could wash it and then get it to the next student to wear. Mark doesn’t always know who will be wearing the shirt on a given day but, when he sees it, he always smiles and insists on getting a picture with whoever is wearing it. Andersen and Mark say what started as a light-hearted inside joke among friends has turned into a fun little tradition that creates laughs and good memories.

“This person walked up to me and asked, ‘hey, are you the guy from the Patrick Shirt?’” Mark said with a smile. “I think some people knew the shirt more than they knew me.”

Andersen said the waiting list has upwards of 20 names on it. Rochelle Johnson, a professor in environmental studies who serves as the Gipson Honors Program advisor, recently wore the shirt. Provost David Douglass is on the list, as are the College’s co-presidents, Doug Brigham and Jim Everett.

“Just because you’re a co-president doesn’t mean you get to cut in the list,” Mark laughed. “You’ve got to wait your turn.”

Which led to the ultimate question – will Mark himself ever wear the Patrick Shirt? He says he will, perhaps at his graduation next year, but for now he’s just enjoying the fun that the Patrick Shirt has brought and appreciating the fun the new tradition has sparked. He said he thinks it’d be great to see similar shirts with other faces around campus.

“One of my favorite parts of The College of Idaho is how tight-knit of a community there is here,” Mark concluded. “This is another example of that.”

The College of Idaho has a 131-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.