The scene was controlled chaos as Colgate University students and faculty filed into the TV room of the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) on Tuesday, October 30. On the way in, each person received a colored piece of paper that directed him or her to an assigned table. These long tables were set up throughout the room, and by 4:15, just before the meeting started, each one was crowded with people. They were there to discuss the topic, “There’s nothing to do at Colgate but drink: improving social life for everyone.” It was the first Diversity Council round-table discussion of the year, sponsored by the African Latin Asian Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center, and although some students were there as representatives for organizations like the Leadership Institute, the Pan-Hellenic council and religious life, many more looked as if they had been waiting since August for the day they would be asked to attack this subject.
Professor of Sociology Caroline Hsu opened the discussion by delivering statistics that showed the results from a Colgate drinking survey. She also displayed some student comments from the end of that survey. In these comments, students expressed feeling isolated because they do not drink alcohol. One suggestion was that because Greek life is so popular on the Colgate campus, there’s bound to be a lot of drinking. However, the actual survey results demonstrated that a great percentage of Colgate students either drink lightly or not at all. Therefore, each table was asked to discuss the role Colgate administration should have in providing opportunities for students to have fun without drinking on the weekends and to suggest possible alternative activities. Students widely believed that the administration should play a very active role in sponsoring activities but that the main problem was not necessarily deficient opportunities for non-alcoholic weekend events but lack of public relations. The creator and distributor of Campus Distributions e-mails, Julie DiTrapano, looked frustrated at this statement.
“It’s frustrating to hear that there isn’t enough PR, yet students aren’t reading the Campus Distributions,” she said.
At the end of the small discussions, one representative stood up from each table to present the best ideas his or her group had come up with for weekend activities alternative to drinking. While representatives presented these ideas, first-year Henry Grant unexpectedly stood up to express a perspective common among the room.
“How do we deal with social isolation when you reach out to the wider community and they don’t reach back?” Grant asked.
Some ideas included off-campus weekend trips, attracting a better turnout for sporting events, and better Friday Night Movies. Two students proposed their idea for a designated space for discussion, which could hopefully foster sincere conversation between Colgate students. They called their idea a follow-up to “the Colgate ‘hello.'” Hopefully it would suit students like senior Liddy Kang, who calls herself an introvert and would benefit from the peaceful, one-on-one relationship this room would promote.
The Colgate administration will consider the ideas presented at the Diversity Council meeting, and the related statistics will also be made available to interested groups.