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New study finds that Carls are 7 times likelier to die of loneliness than students at comparable colleges

NORTHFIELD, Minn. – A new study published Thursday in the “Journal of Animal Health and Production” has found that students attending Carleton College are more than seven times as likely as other students at comparable colleges to die of loneliness on Valentine’s Day.

“It appears that the neurobiology, campus culture and deep, enduring self-hatred of Carleton students contributes to their increased susceptibility to death by loneliness,” said University of California, Los Angeles neuroscientist Dr. Joe Bruin, co-author of the research study “Camp Carleton,” which studied the relationship between enrollment at Carleton College and unexplainable, inexplicable deaths by loneliness.

“It appears that Carls, in general, have a lower tolerance for loneliness than students at similar institutions, such as Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts,” said co-author Dr. Oski Bear, University of California, Berkeley professor of sociology.

Experimental trials, which included shock therapy on Carleton PEPS workers and invasive brain surgery on members of the CSA Senate, found that a significant majority of Carls had defective hypothalamuses.

“It is unclear whether these defects are genetic mutations that occur prior to matriculation or if they are a result of damage to the hypothalamus sustained while attending the college,” Dr. Bruin said. 

“We have strong reason to believe that the bizarre ritual known as ‘New Student Week’ may be a contributing factor,” Dr. Bear said.

Traumatic brain injuries like those the study hypothesizes are incurred during New Student Week can damage the hypothalamus, causing it to overproduce cortisol in response to strong feelings like loneliness. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and this overproduction can heighten symptoms of stress, including high blood pressure, heart disease and suppression of the immune system. It was found that the cause of death for Carls who died of loneliness was cardiac arrest, in a shockingly similar manner as laboratory rabbits who have been submerged in cold water.

The link between campus culture and the rate of death by loneliness is still unknown. Researchers speculate that the prevalence of zealous over-achievers creates an environment in which people are more likely to believe that romantic love is something that can be systematically achieved through competence, hard work and dedication. These environments can sometimes foster feelings of unworthiness, according to Dr. Bear. When expectations about finding love are not met, research suggests that Carls simply cannot handle the emotional burden. During stressful holidays like Valentine’s Day, Carls are prone to over-stress and, in extreme cases, death. The belief that Carleton students will die alone — which, paradoxically, is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy — leads to a vicious cycle.

“We often see these sort of maladaptive cognitive distortions in guinea pigs,” Dr. Bruin said. “That’s why you have to buy them in pairs.”

Another reason why Carls may be more susceptible to death by loneliness is their overly nitpicky temperament. While Carls often engage in strange mating rituals such as staring at their potential mate from outside windows and “jumping off” of their desired one’s contributions in group discussions, the success of these rituals is close to zero.

“For a few lucky Carls, such rituals will end in a curious phenomenon referred to as ‘Carls Marry Carls,’ but for others, it will cause lifelong trauma that will not be resolved until long after their fertility has waned,” Dr. Bear said.

The low success rates of these rituals could prove problematic for Carleton legacy admissions, which may affect recruitment rates of Carleton College, primarily relying on the intergenerational dissemination of Carleton mythos. The college has taken steps to mitigate these effects, including the introduction of Date Knight. Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston declined to comment on Carls’ romantic ineptitude, but could be heard muttering the words “hopeless” and “pathetic” as she rushed away from our reporter.

College employees have been spotted preparing for another decimation this Valentine’s Day, which happens to fall on a Tuesday.

“We removed all frozen food from the Burton Dining Hall freezers and secured a large number of black industrial garbage bags,” said head of Student Body Retrieval and Removal Margaret Candyheart.

In years past, these high levels of death have caused mass sanitation problems at the college, but, as always, the community has adapted to handle it as best as they can.

“It’s scary, because like, your friend could just be talking to you on Valentine’s Day, and then suddenly they’ll start foaming at the mouth and fall to the ground,” said Sozy Cordial ‘23. “It could happen to anybody, even people who routinely kick out their roommate on Friday nights.”

Researchers recommend three strategies for lowering the risk of death this Valentine’s Day at Carleton College:

  1. Wear mourning clothing on Tuesday, Feb. 14th. In American culture, this clothing would traditionally be black; in other cultures, this clothing is white. No difference has been found in the death rates of those who chose to wear black or white, as long as the wearer believed that the color was appropriate for a funeral.
  2. Do not gaze upon couples embracing each other in the Language and Dining Center. While it may be difficult to avoid viewing this public display of affection, it is important that you resist the urge to watch. It may help to sit at the counters for sad students eating meals alone that look out onto Lyman Lakes.
  3. Spend time strengthening your platonic relationships prior to Valentine’s Day. The risk of death by loneliness is most effectively combated by not feeling lonely, and spending time with friends and family is shown to be the best way to do this. You should aim to spend at least six full days with each important person in your life prior to the big day.

While there is still much to learn about the phenomena occurring at Carleton College, researchers are hopeful that there will be a cure found within the next fifty years as the smartest, most capable surviving students graduate and enter the research field themselves. If there is a genetic component involved in the susceptibility to death by loneliness, there is some hope that future generations of Carls will be more resistant to loneliness due to natural selection. Researchers also want the public to know that the best way to comfort a Carl who may be afraid of what fate awaits them this Valentine’s Day is to explain to them that loneliness is a social construct, as other research has found that, even more than their fear that they are fundamentally inadequate and unlovable, Carls deeply believe in the notion that they can rationalize away their emotions.

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