One of Colgate’s defining characteristics, and the main reason I decided to come here, is the supportive and close knit community I knew to exist among the student body, faculty and staff. Remember your tour of Colgate, when your overly enthusiastic tour guide told you about the “Colgate Hello?” While this particular go-to Admissions line is closer to myth than reality, it has always been true that once you come to Colgate, you are taken care of, and when you graduate, you are expected to return the favor. I’m worried this is no longer the case.
My faith in the character of this community was shaken when I witnessed the behavior of my fellow students at the Girl Talk concert last Friday. In the crowd, waiting for Girl Talk to come on stage, I stood in front of a group of frat boys — we’ll call them Zetas — belligerently harassing and heckling every person who took the mic to calm down the crowd or introduce the event. Ten minutes later, I watched two guys nearby try to start a mosh pit, violently knocking into everyone around them. Everywhere I turned, aggressive drunk students were disrupting the crowd, yelling profanities, and even insulting the man they came to see in concert. Anyone who questioned this behavior was challenged to a fight or verbally harassed. The concert eventually degenerated into chaos: the stage collapsed and Girl Talk was escorted into a police car for his own safety.
In talking to other people about the concert, it is clear that my experience was not an anomaly. Unless you blocked the night out of your memory, or were part of the problem, chances are you encountered behavior that got in the way of your good time. The general consensus on campus is that the concert was not a success. I admit that Campus Safety and the Administration is partly to blame for the event’s failure. The stage and equipment were make-shift, and Campus Safety was grossly under-resourced. Prior planning and adequate research would have diminished the disorder. But the concert nonetheless illustrated an alarming trend in the student body: Colgate is losing its sense of community.
The saddest part of the situation is that I have never seen an event generate so much excitement on campus as did Girl Talk last week. Everyone was looking forward to Friday night, and it is a shame that what could have been a unifying event for new freshmen and seasoned seniors alike became an embarrassment for the entire school. Put 1,500 drunk college students together on the first Friday night of the semester, and of course the result is not going to be an environment fit for your grandmother. However, our behavior at Girl Talk pushed beyond the boundaries of what is appropriate even by college standards.
Don’t get me wrong — I love that Colgate students know how to have a good time. But I am worried about the direction we are headed. What kind of example did we set for our newly-arrived freshmen who are still learning what Colgate is all about? It is currently completely acceptable for drunk, destructive students to act however they like, and no one will challenge them. As a student body, we need to be more respectful of each other. Put simply, drunk or sober, let’s stop being jerks. We all live on this tiny hill in upstate New York. We all love to have fun. So why can’t we actually act like the tight-knit community Admissions keeps telling people we are?