From Monday, October 20, to Friday, October 24, students with blue-and-white nametags greeted each other around the campus as part of an student-driven initiative to revive the Colgate Hello. Members of Colgate’s Senior Honor Society, Konosioni, with support from the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement, distributed “Hello, my name is” stickers around Colgate campus and encouraged students, faculty and staff to wear these nametags and say “hello” to each other all week.
The Colgate Hello was once a tradition to get to know people in the community and welcome strangers to campus.
“When I arrived on campus in September 1952, we were issued a Freshman Handbook. One of the many rules [and] traditions stated that when walking on campus and you passed another student, you had to say ‘hello’ or ‘hi’. It was a great tradition as it ‘forced’ you to acknowledge your fellow student. I believe it started to disappear in the late 60’s when the Hippie generation moved in,” Art Steneri ‘56 said.
In hopes of bringing the campus community closer together, Konosioni initiated this project to revive the dead tradition.
“The idea for the project came from a friend of a friend who wore nametags for an entire year. It was just a symbol that he was open to meeting new people. By the end of the year, he had hundreds of new friends and everywhere he went people were happy to see him. The Colgate Hello hoped to emulate that success,” member of Konosioni and the Colgate Hello Committee senior Viktor Mak said.
To ensure widespread participation, Konosioni made a video on Youtube, created a Facebook page and invited people to post photos of themselves wearing the nametags on Twitter with #ColgateHello.
Konosioni received encouragement and support for the project. Friendly hellos from strangers left a positive impression on Angela Jung, a sophomore who participated in the project.
“At first, it’s uncomfortable saying hello to strangers. However, when people say hello to me, I feel important … in this community. So later on, saying hello and meeting strangers makes my days more bright and special,” Jung said.
Some alumni even noted their appreciation for the revival of the “Colgate hello” tradition, posting their thoughts on social media websites. One alumnus tweeted that the Colgate Hello begins every relationship and possibility.
“Even though we don’t know everyone on campus personally, we can be friendly and cordial to each other because we are all members of the Colgate community. It’s that initial connection we’re hoping for with this project, because from there, anything can happen,” Public Relations Director of Konosioni and member of the Colgate Hello Committee senior Natalie Sportelli said.
While the project attempts to bring the Colgate community together and celebrate tradition, to some students, the project has a limited impact.
“I only wore [the nametag] and did not greet others. I was not greeted either. Most people just wore it without saying hello. At least I didn’t encounter any [one who said hello].There are not a lot of people participating to see this positive change in our campus,” first-year Florence Shen said.
Student Senator first-year Andrew deFrank felt ambivalent towards the tradition.
“I think there are probably better, more creative ways to bring the community closer together than a ‘hello’. Even if everyone did the Colgate Hello, it would still not be worthwhile. It would just result in interaction with no lasting consequences,” deFrank said.