Reawakening the Colgate Spirit

Justin Moga

On Saturday, I loaded up my parents’ car and headed out on the highway filled with excitement for the return to Colgate. En route, I read through the Colgate catalogue and started planning out some changes to my timetable this semester. I also took the time to browse interesting courses that I could take when I’d completed all my requirements. After I put the catalogue down, I couldn’t stop thinking about Colgate and the friends I missed; I even thought I’d spotted a Colgate bumper sticker on a passing car.

When our car turned once again onto Fearon Road, I popped in a Philosopher Kings CD and played a familiar song which I associate with Colgate. After playing it three times, I found myself on Oak Drive once again. I turned the music off — much to the relief of my parents — and took in the impressive view of Colgate, something I hadn’t seen in almost four months. Hours later, after unpacking, the feeling of excitement that had earlier overwhelmed me had faded. Somehow, I had been excited only by the idea of Colgate, which, having now gone from idea to reality, was no longer enticing. Colgate suddenly seemed like nothing special; I already knew everything there was to know about Colgate — its traditions, facilities and campus life. Where were the butterflies that had bothered my stomach so much a year earlier? Where was this magical Colgate spirit I was so sure I knew? As I stared across Taylor Lake, I wondered if I would ever again live the happy life I had had lived as a first-year. I wondered if the best year of my college life had already gone by, and if I was destined to spend the remaining three years outside the Colgate loop, in a lonely residence hall off the hill.

Clearly, what I missed the most was my comfortable single in East Hall, which afforded me a bird’s-eye view of all Colgate life on the quad; I was pretty much at the center of attention. My new room, although slightly more spacious, does not have the same perspective, and seems distant from the beating heart of Colgate. I thought back nostalgically to the mornings when I used to be able to leave my room less than sixty seconds before the start of chemistry class (in Wynn Hall). On Saturday mornings, with my window ajar, I was woken up by the voices of tour guides from the Office of Admission who used to say “And now we’re passing by East Hall, a First-Year residence…” and continue on about the history of how it was built. Last year, many of the friendships I made were made during social gatherings at the COVE, which was not just used by “Easties.” With all my old friends and neighbors now scattered around campus, I miss the tight social network of first-year-hood.

Desperately wanting to get a glimpse of that old life again, I snuck into Convocation in the Chapel on Sunday night, and heard the speech of Dr. Ellen Kraly, Director of the Upstate Institue, and the words of Dean Johnson. I remembered how Dean Johnson had encouraged my class to “scare” ourselves by trying new things and not being afraid to reach out to others. This year she encouraged the incoming class to take full advantage of Colgate’s education and asked them not to forget those who did not have access to an education. Dr. Kraly talked to the Class of 2012 about the challenges they would be faced with “in class” and what they would learn from their professors and peers. “Why not reach for the mountain-top?” Dr. Kraly said, asking new Colgaters to open their minds and push their limits. To me, this sounded like something that all Colgate students are good at; it is the energy and drive of the students that shape Colgate’s unique spirit, on and off the hill.

Connection to Colgate’s spirit, like connection to its wireless Internet, does not depend on campus location. Furthermore, the Colgate spirit can travel with students to all corners of the world, although it may become dormant from time to time, as in my case. Newly empowered by my reawakened Colgate spirit and thrilled by the prospect of a new year full of opportunities, I stood up with the Class of 2012 and sang joyfully about my Alma Mater.