College Years Wasted?

Jill Ferris

I LOVE Colgate. Granted, I am often accused of having an overly utopian and optimistic way of looking at life, but let’s admit it – Colgate is definitely an amazing place. There are very few things on our campus that I can legitimately complain about. Minus the annoying detours around our much-needed library, Campus Safety’s parking-ticket hey-day that I unfortunately witness on Wednesday mornings and, of course, the wretched hill that I climb up every morning to go to class, there are very few things that bug me about Colgate. Today, however, the Commentary page is begging me to find something to gripe about just a little bit because, let’s face it, life isn’t always peaches and cream.

If I recall correctly, Kaplan or Newsweek ranked Colgate pretty high up on the food chain in terms of being a party school. I must say that I’m a bit amazed that our school qualified for this national ranking (considering that there is only 2,700 of us), but I certainly knew from the beginning that Colgate was a party school. I can still remember my cousin, who graduated in 1994, joking with me about how she graduated summa cum laude from the Jug.

To my own surprise, I have grown quite fond of the Jug over the last year or so; it’s fun to go there and run into a bunch of my good friends that I don’t have a chance to see during the week. Additionally, I’ve often enjoyed myself at Jug semi-formal dances held by my sorority and some of the varsity athletic teams. I’ve also found that Slices, the Hour Glass and the Palace are also fun places to hang out at night. Unless you’re in the mood to chill out and catch the Take-Two flicks or watch a movie with your friends, there is nothing better than getting out of your stuffy room to go out on a weekend night. We are, after all, in college, right?

While all that is well and good, I have often tried with great difficulty to remind myself of that rationale at 1:30 AM on the weekends as I’m trying to fall asleep to the obnoxious screams I hear outside my dorm window. I’ll tell myself again that ‘it’s just part of college’ when I see broken furniture in the dorm lounges and see campus safety dealing with an intoxicated individual passed out on the ground. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talking about how ‘this one kid puked all over the hall’ the night before, or how this other person jumped out of a window and nearly broke a leg because ‘he was so wasted.’

In fact, I hear these scenarios so often that sometimes it seems like it’s the only thing people talk about at brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I am almost positive that people are bothered by the smell of puke that fills the hallways. I am sure that nobody likes to pay the bill for the damage done to the building at the end of the year because of the vandalism that occurred on those out-of-control nights. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it bothers me to see what happens when people lose control of themselves. It bothers me when all of a sudden ‘a little fun’ turns into uncontrollable belligerence and when what would have been a good time turns into watching a good friend hug the base of a disgusting toilet. As I reflect back on these scenarios, I can’t help but question the excuse of “we’re all just in college.”

I guess what bothers me more than the broken furniture, the puke-filled garbage cans and the dangerously high BAC levels is the logic behind Colgate’s crazy party scene. A lot of people have told me that getting wasted gives us all something to do in a boring little town like Hamilton and others have told me that it is simply a way to forget all of our problems. I really hope that people don’t see obnoxious partying as the only remedy to boredom and stress, especially when Colgate works hard to provide the campus with a myriad of social options and opportunities to get involved and interact with the wonderful people that are here.

Hang on – I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because it’s entirely possible that I am completely wrong about the underlying principle behind reckless partying. If indeed I am wrong, though, I find it hard to imagine a legitimate justification for the self-destruction, vandalism and lack of consideration for neighbors, custodians, faculty and families that live in Hamilton. I can’t imagine why we would put our bodies in danger by deciding to have too much to drink or, even worse, how we can stand by and watch our friends put themselves in dangerous situations.

Please don’t interpret this article as hypocritical, patronizing or as a blatant criticism of Colgate’s party scene. All I want to do is express my concern and shed some light on a reality that we all need to re-examine and seek a more complete understanding. I am certainly not suggesting that partying should stop or that partying is anything short of a good time. As I mentioned before, I am a proponent for socializing on the weekends and winding down from a week filled with the stress of school and the demands of our extra-curricular activities. I think that partying is and always will be an integral part of the college social scene, but I also think that it’s important to both identify and respect the fine line between partying and being out of control. After all, Colgate is more than just a party school and we are all more than inconsiderate, rambunctious Beirut-addicts. As I see it, we work hard and so we can play hard within reason. Colgate is classy, so let’s be sure to stick to our standards.