The Best Nest: Little Hall

For my last Best Nest column, I am writing a personal piece about a place that has been my “nest” throughout my Colgate career. While students’ dorm rooms change from year to year, students continue to frequent the same academic buildings throughout their time at Colgate. This might not mean very much to most students, but for me, it has been very important. As an art history major, I have spent a great deal of time in Little Hall. When I took my first art history class in the spring semester of my first year, I remember descending down the Dana steps from Curtis in the deathly cold at 8:30 a.m. The view from the top of those steps was beautiful in its white, desolate stillness. Down I went to what at first seemed like a cold, impersonal and slightly confusing building.

Sophomore year, when I declared my major, I discovered the third floor of the building, with its lounge space in the center and sprawling windows that overlook Case Library and Taylor Lake. When the stress or incessant chatter that often characterize the library became too much for me to handle, I came to this space to study, occasionally revealing my “secret” study space to a trustworthy friend or two. At the beginning of this semester, in the middle of writing my senior thesis, I was horrified when I did not receive a senior thesis carrel in the library. However, Professor Bob McVaugh, chair of the Art and Art History department, was kind enough to give me and the other carrel-less art history concentrators desks to use for the semester in the Visual Resources Library on the third floor of Little. As a person who needs a consistent space at which to work and leave my study materials, I frequented this new carrel, and the building, even more than I had in the past.

By spending a great deal of time in Little this semester, I have strengthened friendships and relationships with my professors in a way I would not have if I had been in the library. I have come to know the building’s quirks: the sounds the doors make when they close, the pitter-patter of footsteps on the concrete floors. My friends and I have lounged on the couches on the third floor, talking about what we will do after we graduate; waited patiently for coffee and muffins on Tuesday mornings when the department provides breakfast; I have studied late into the night on the second-floor couches with classmates; I have slaved in the studio on an assignment that has put me at my wit’s end. And finally, last week, I had the great pleasure of celebrating my and my fellow students’ great accomplishments this year at a lovely reception on the first floor outside the Clifford Gallery.

In his 1989 book “The Island Within,” Richard Nelson wrote, “Every place, like every person, is elevated by the love and respect shown toward it, and by the way in which its bounty is received.” Many seniors with whom I have spoken recently are feeling particularly nostalgic for Colgate. However, my nostalgia for the Colgate campus is highly concentrated. Out of all that I am thankful for throughout my Colgate career, I am by far the most thankful for the Art and Art History Department and the home away from home it has provided for me at this school. I have received the most enriching academic experience I can imagine, but also have met some of the most kind, wise and special people I have known in this department. To my friends, professors and faculty, I will carry you all on my future journeys. Thank you for everything.