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UConn Spider-Man & The Allure Of A Campus Celebrity

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Jonathan the Husky, Soop Doop, and that really hot guy from your statistics class all have one thing in common: they can be considered campus celebrities. 

The definition of a campus celebrity is quite loose. Urban Dictionary states that a campus celebrity is “someone at your school who you develop a fascination with despite knowing nothing about them because they are attractive, weird-looking or just seem like they lead an interesting life.” However, I’d argue that campus celebrities also include those elusive figures that everyone knows about, but not many are personally close with. 

My friends and I often joke about campus celebrities, immediately texting each other upon seeing a student-athlete, a favorite dining hall worker, or a man we once saw perform a fantastic karaoke number. 


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I have been thinking a lot lately about why this “campus celebrity” trend has sprung up in recent years. I think a lot of it has to do with the internet age and our parasocial relationships with those that we admire. By latching onto random figures or creating elaborate backstories for those we don’t know, we simultaneously feel more entertained by and connected with the others within our community.

However, there’s a niche subcategory of campus celebrity that often intrigues people more: ones in which the person’s true identity remains a mystery. Whether it’s the person who inhabits a university’s mascot fur-suit or a mysterious social media presence, anonymity can take a celebrity status to a whole other level. Here at the University of Connecticut, we have a particularly special anonymous celeb: UConn Spider-Man. 

Spidey’s Fame

I recently had the chance to profile UConn Spider-Man for UConn’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Campus. I also wanted to look at our conversation through the lens of this campus celebrity trend.

UConn Spider-Man, or Spidey as I’ll call him, first emerged at HuskyTHON 2022. Seeking a way to put himself out there, Spidey realized it’s a lot easier to be vulnerable when no one knows who you are. 

“I’m shy as shit in real life as it is,” Spidey told me on a Zoom call. 

While it would be foolish of me to ignore that some of Spidey’s allure comes from a connection with the fictional character, it seems as though the UConn community generally finds it easier to open up to someone who has no face. Spidey often has “emotional and intimate experiences” with students, sharing their biggest hardships and excitements. 

Alongside the small, intimate interactions, there have been some more comical moments that showcase his fame.

For example, he told me about a time in which he met a woman wearing a Spider-Man shirt. 

“Have you met the UConn Spider-Man?” he asked her. 

She went on an excited rant, saying she loved him and would love to meet him again. 

“Do you know what I would do to know who he is?” she went on to say.

“I wonder,” said Spidey. 

While this strong sense of connection could scare off a “campus celebrity,” Spidey considers it to be one of the reasons he does what he does. 

“Because of the fact I have ‘UConn Spider-Man’ in my [Instagram handle], I represent the student body to some degree… I try to be for the student body, you know what I mean? I don’t know if I necessarily represent UConn, I feel like that’s a little much, but I would like to say I’m involved in campus or whatever I can do,” said Spidey.

There are definitely negatives to being well-known on a college campus. When you’re famous, yet anonymous, these challenges can be particularly unique. When bringing this up, I compared Spidey to Hannah Montana. He laughed and explained that I was not necessarily wrong. 

“In order to keep the identity a secret, you have to bifurcate your life. There’s people who I used to be friends with as myself and there’s people who I used to be friends with as Spidey, and I couldn’t share those secrets with some people,” said Spidey, “You can’t really commit to something…A club will want you to go [to meetings], but sometimes you can’t connect as yourself to the club. You have to connect with them as Spider-Man. They know you but they don’t know you.” 

There’s another facet about being an anonymous campus celebrity that I hadn’t really thought about before my conversation with Spidey. Sometimes, when people see a Spider-Man suit, they don’t know whether it’s a UConn Spider-Man or the UConn Spider-Man. 

Since Spidey’s first appearance at UConn, Spider-Men, and a plethora of other superheroes, have popped up on college campuses throughout the country. Spidey says people have even gone to the bars dressed as him in an attempt to pick up women. There was even a group chat of campus Spidey’s at one point. While Spidey says they just “posted photos” and “talked about dumb sh*t,” I would’ve loved to get a peek at what a Spider-Man-filled group chat would look like. 

The Future of The Campus Celebrity

While I’m unsure if “campus celebrity” culture will exist in the long run or if it’s simply a fleeting moment that will fade into oblivion, it sure is fun to participate in for the time being. Until the next time a famous character emerges in Storrs, I will in fact be choosing random people to be my dining hall crushes and social media favorites.

Emily is an Associate Editor for Her Campus UConn. She is a junior at the University of Connecticut studying journalism and communication. Emily enjoys writing about pop culture, lifestyle, film, and TV. Emily is a Copy Editor for The Daily Campus and the Social Media Chair for UConn Creative Writing Club. She also co-hosts and edits a pop culture podcast called ‘Girl Talk.’ Passionate about all things creative, Emily is often writing poetry, reading a book, or trying to teach herself a new skill. In her spare time, you can find Emily sipping on a coffee, crafting a new Spotify playlist, or obsessing over her dog.