The Colgate Spirit: Seeing the Light

Justin Moga

Sheltered from a cold night and deep snow, I joined other prospective students in a late evening spectacle at the Colgate Memorial Chapel on the first night of April Visit Days 2007. Of the many a cappella groups that performed for us that night and took my breath away, one group sang a loosely familiar song. Dazed and dreamy, I left the chapel and headed for my hotel. I kept the tune in the back of my mind. A few days later, while shuffling through my CD collection back home, recognized the tune as “Light of Day” by the Philosopher Kings. Since deciding to come to Colgate, I have kept that CD handy, and listened to the tune quite often.

Four months later on a quiet, overcast morning, while following a quirky Google Earth route from Syracuse into Hamilton, I realized why this song had been so important to me. The green and brown pastures of small, open Madison County roads all thrived by the light of day, and yet held so many secrets that I would never know.

On such a warm August morning, the sun only leaked through the cloud cover. We had to use our headlights to navigate this very winding journey through country hills that seemed prepared for an imminent storm. This atmosphere led me to believe I was in for more than I had bargained for. So I reached into the glove compartment and popped the Philosopher Kings CD into my stereo.

I had been planning my arrival at Colgate all summer. I imagined, even, that I would arrive on a cloudy day with a little rain for folkloric good luck. I expected no surprises. However, although I’d visited Colgate twice before, I began to feel overwhelmed with anticipation which grew with every crest and turn on Fearon Road. It was truly as if there was “something waiting there, hanging inside the air” as the song claimed. Minutes later, when I turned to once again take the wooded lane from the intersection of Broad Street and East Kendrick Avenue, I could feel the spirit of Colgate unleashed in me.

Aha, now I finally understood. That a cappella group was right; an ordinary visitor can search under every nook and cranny on campus, and still not know what Colgate is all about. Colgate’s powerful and contagious spirit is really something that cannot “be seen by the light of day”; it can only be sensed by those who are part of it.