Dear Dean McLoughlin: Letters from the Community

This week, The Colgate Maroon-News introduces what we hope will be a constructive platform for members of the Colgate community to communicate their views on past and pledged changes to university policies. This feature is called “Dear Dean McLoughlin” in an effort to facilitate a clear line of communication between Vice President and Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II, Ph.D. and students. As a courtesy, The Maroon-News notified Dean McLoughlin of the forthcoming feature. In response, he wrote, “I am a strong believer in the value of journalism, and the student press in particular, for accountability and communication. I look forward to learning from students in this format as well as the conversations I have with students in committee meetings, open forums, and through my office hours.”

The Editorial Staff of The Colgate Maroon-News has granted anonymity to students who have requested it when their submissions shared sensitive or personal information. We encourage students to continue to submit articles to the Commentary Section beyond this week’s issue, as we endeavor to represent the student voice as Colgate’s student newspaper.

I write to you today with a heavy heart. It saddens me that you make claims meant to represent the voice of the student body when you have so little understanding of what students on this campus truly want. You strive to deprive students of spaces free from concern and outlets of release. I, as a student struggling with depression and anxiety, do not know what I would do in a community that prevents me from coping with the stress of such a rigorous curriculum and demanding school.

When you seek to destroy the student body’s social outlets by launching policies attacking Greek life and the Colgate “social scene,” you attack students such as myself, even as somebody that is not affiliated. I have had the opportunity to see what life is like as an unaffiliated student and would just like to say that I have only had positive interactions with Greek life. Greek organizations are willing to be more open to the community when they are given more freedom, not less. Less freedom will only deter a more community based feel on this campus.

This situation forces students toward an attitude of fear and resentment, where students binge drink in their rooms, putting their lives at risk. This adds unnecessary stress and danger to an already stressful environment, because students live in fear of the offices and administration meant to keep them safe. The school should not be seeking to destroy its rich history of Greek life, it should be looking to expand it and promote further student involvement in social groups that will unite the student body rather than dividing it over issues that the administration knows so little about. Please do not make claims about the opinion of the student body as a whole, without first allowing the student body to voice its opinion without fear of retaliation from the administration.

If you continue on this path of destruction, Colgate will lose the features that make it the wonderful school that so many talented individuals desire to attend. It will be turned into a withering shell of it’s current and former glory and cease to be a place of prestige for so many prospective students.


The Unsilenced Majority

I am writing to address the policy changes you’ve implemented this year at Colgate and the effects that they are having on the student body. I am an unaffiliated sophomore and this year I have felt much more excluded from the social scene than I did last year due to the increased restrictions placed on social hosting policies. These regulations promote smaller events and, in many cases, permit only Greek life members to attend. This results in social events that are more exclusive, rather than less, leaving unaffiliated students, like myself, without a social outlet on the weekends. The attempts at providing alternative events have, to date, been too few, and are unappealing to the majority of students.

We all understand that Greek life dominates the social scene at Colgate. Many of us may agree that more balanced offerings would improve the social life for all students. But in a school with a long history of Greek life and current participation by a large number of eligible students, new policies won’t change the culture in just a few months. Many students feel as I do and conclude that their only option is to join a Greek letter organization, even though that may not be what aligns with their values or personality. The new policies are only making Greek life a more desirable option. Instead, they should promote inclusivity, while developing creative alternatives that students (including those in Greek life) would find attractive. That is going to take time and should involve a lot of consultation with many students. In the meantime, Colgate should not further restrict access to Greek life social events in a misguided attempt to de-emphasize them. The result is likely to have the opposite effect and a negative impact on both unaffiliated and affiliated students. 


Anna McGinnis, Class of 2020

I’m writing to you today because I love Colgate and want to see it be a place that everyone is comfortable in. I think you want the same thing, but you are not listening. 

Please stop the War on Social Hosting. I don’t want to trivialize the suffering brought onto marginalized bodies via neoliberal policies like the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism, but I see your policies as a War on Social Hosting because I believe they will also create inequitable suffering: heavy restrictions and increased punishments for violating said restrictions will most heavily impact students who are already marginalized on campus. I personally believe that current policies have already unequally impacted students with marginalized identities. 

Have you ever seen Campus Safety enter a party at La Casa, Bunche or CAH?  These spaces are typically more POC and LGBTQ concentrated than the average fraternity or sports party, and the relationship that these bodies have with police and security personnel is not one that feels safe. There are Campus Safety officers who have a reputation for going above and beyond in their efforts to get students in trouble. If even one Campus Safety officer is feared then relationships between students and the people who are supposed to protect us is flawed. 

When thinking of increased restrictions on social hosting, I think first about the students who cannot afford off campus housing to throw parties at. I think about the medical amnesty that students might be deprived of because that call will negatively impact an organization. I do not believe Colgate’s party scene is perfect, but I believe this is due to a lack of accessibility and variety, not a lack of regulation in party spaces. Registered events are the safest parties because there is an abundance of TIPS certified individuals at these events. Dorm drinking, downtown drinking and off-campus drinking lack this crucial alcohol education. Also, I want to say people are not going to stop doing cocaine because we’re having fewer parties; if your problem is with cocaine or other “designer drugs” then please do not make this about social hosting as a whole. As a campus there could be zero registered events and I guarantee you the people who want to do coke will do coke. 

Please listen: fewer parties steepens the social power hierarchies that exist already and could create new and more dangerous hierarchies (think underground organizations/prohibition). Social hosting policies have not made campus safer, but normalizing drinking socially could limit negative alcohol behaviors. Smart, safe, transparent drinking rather than hidden binge drinking would make this campus safer. Please work with us towards equity and accessibility. I want every person to feel like they belong here. We’re still chasing Colgate for All.

Best + radical love,

Maximilian Michael, Class of 2019

It happens, and everything goes unsaid. 

We walk across campus. We go to class. We eat at the dining hall. Life goes on, just the same. And it seems wrong, for someone to write those dehumanizing words, “ching chong mother f***er”, as if it were nothing, and for life to go on, as if it were nothing. Because words are not nothing. They are thought, intent, belief. But that’s just what happens here, isn’t it? That’s what happens everywhere. Isn’t it? Are you numb enough yet? 

I can’t speak for them, I don’t know how they’re feeling. I only know what psychological pain feels like. It’s a heavy burden to carry, in addition to the ones you already have. It’s an invisible open wound, still throbbing, and no one will stop and ask if you’re OK. They can’t see it. So you keep going. You’re expected to keep going, as if, when you can’t see pain, it doesn’t exist. A part of you, nonexistent. Not true. With each outside sting, inner pain is validated, it hurts more. With stress it increases, invisible, and it’s all you can do to keep from leaping on to a table in the dining hall and shouting it out loud, bringing it and yourself into the outside world of visibility, and existence.  

I know about the anguish of what goes unsaid, but I’m not Asian, and I’m not an international student. I am a white, domestic student. I’m part of the 67 percent majority on this campus. A majority who is, for the most part, not expected to take any sort of stand on “minority” issues aside from the occasional prompted, tepid, politically correct condemnation of racism. Same as the administration. It’s a poisonous tradition deeply rooted in the culture of Colgate. We, the white, domestic majority at this school truly have the ability to act like this doesn’t affect us – but it does. Acts of racism affect the entire student body, dividing us, breeding hatred, fostering an oppressive atmosphere and an inhospitable place to live. We no have excuse for pretending otherwise. 

Dear Dean McLoughlin, organizations of students of color on this campus cannot be expected to shoulder all of the responsibility for reacting to yet another hate crime. We need more than one Wednesday night in an overcrowded room with still only a handful of students, while the other 2,850 students are busy not listening. Information didn’t circulate fast enough, and the majority of campus acts like the issue of racism doesn’t affect them in any case. The administration allows this to happen by considering the situation dealt with after a disapproving email and a student-organized speak out. You have the power to make this issue heard and understood by the entire campus. You can’t neglect that power anymore.        

We are all numb. It’s the natural reaction when something like this happens every single year. 

We’re sick of saying, “This time things will change.” We’re sick of saying, “This time.” But this time, once again, there is evidence. Clear, visible evidence of the racism that has never ceased to be an invisible burden for students of color on this campus. If Colgate moves past this point without making changes to the way students are educated during their four years here, it would be a grave mistake. Orientation, the Core Curriculum, CLs in residence halls, link staff, advisors. There are plenty of programs and requirements at Colgate which every student on campus must come in contact with; each one a possibility to help rid students of their biases. It should not be this difficult to communicate to the entire campus, now and forever onwards, the history of racism at this school, why “ching chong motherf***er” is not a joke, and why this cannot continue.  


Madison Jozefiak, Class of 2020

The reality is that people on this campus are being sexually assaulted. I can see that you are answering what students have told you they want. I can see that you are attempting to do what has been asked of you. If people’s desires waiver depending on whether or not you or their friends are the audience, then that is their problem. While one sexual assault is too many, and numbers should not reflect the reality of the traumatic experiences, people, particularly women, are being sexually assaulted at a number disproportionate to that of our peer institutions and national statistics. 

A lot of this, while not all by any means, has to do with alcohol. This school’s relationship with alcohol is bizarre, contrary to the norm and dangerous. Constantly I hear, “Well ‘X’ school has this, or ‘Y’ school has that.” But we are not at those schools. We are at Colgate where our friends, loved ones, classmates and everyone in between are in danger. And why? Because we have had a hand in putting them there. 

Dean McLoughlin, you are attempting to change that. People don’t like it because it is different and it changes the status quo at Colgate. Every time social hosting policy has been mentioned, a student says, “Well… they’ll just move the parties off campus.” 

Here’s an idea. I’ll now address this letter to the students:

Dear Students, 

Don’t let them move off campus. Do not go to parties if they do not follow safe procedures. Do not support them if they are dangerous. The parties only happen if you attend. And what you are saying when you suggest that parties will move off campus is, “I will be a part of the group that is not part of the solution.” You constantly want the Administration with a capital A to solve the problems of this world at this university… if this is true, be part of the solution. When the Administration proposes an answer, don’t immediately reject it because it comes from the Administration. Pay attention, because they are not always wrong.  The laws of this country and the world need to be changed, survivors need to be protected and while not completely in the right, the University is trying. I constantly hear criticisms with no real suggestions. Sure, someone may shout out the odd obscenity, make an “impactful” scene or make a suggestion that shocks and wows followed by a pretty applause. But what are the suggestions? Are they legal? Are they going to help? Are they something tangible that can support the survivor? Or are they baseless shout outs that only aim to show your superficial solidarity? Because the latter is what I see on this campus. 


A survivor, a student and someone who wants real change, not just the illusion of it