New “Living the Liberal Arts Education” Program to Expand First-Year Experience

In 2011, Colgate began a strategic planning process outlining what changes, physical or community-centered, will be made to improve the life on campus. The current timeline for these changes to be complete is in 2020.

One subcategory of the new master plan is to create first-year living communities to enhance the first-year experience. Currently, Colgate offers sophomore residential seminars which provide students with the opportunity to live, study and travel with other students taking the course. The new first-year living communities will try to mimic the intellectual aspect of these sophomore residential seminars, but will not necessarily be focused on a subject.

The group working on Living the Liberal Arts Education outlines six elements of living the liberal arts: Intellectual development; Citizenship, leadership and service; Diversity, access and inclusion; Personal growth and health & wellness; Personal accountability; Lifelong connections.

“The process is an ongoing conversation and planning is still taking place,” Dean of First-Year Students Beverly Low said. “There are still a lot of ideas on the table.”

In this new master plan, first-year students would have more say in their residence experience.

“[First-years] will be able to come together and agree on what they want their living community to look and feel like,” Low said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if Curtis or Andrews or Stillman regulated themselves?”

A new initiative discussed in the Living the Liberal Arts Education subcategory is the inclusion of a Social Honor Code, called the ‘Gate Way. There is discussion of introducing these basic community standards to incoming first-years through online courses before stepping foot on campus. An idea on the table to help students internalize this honor code is to increase the mentoring roles of the Link Staff and community leaders.

“There is talk of mixing upperclassmen into first-year halls,” Low said, as another possible way to increase the peer mentoring on campus.

Living the Liberal Arts Education also hopes to address binge drinking issues on campus. This initiative proposes to lessen restrictions on alcohol on campus and provide alternative environments for students to drink. The intention is to move the campus away from the binge drinking culture towards a new, casual and intellectual culture where it is acceptable to converse with peers and professors over a glass of wine or a beer. The goal is to redefine the “work hard, play hard” mentality on campus.

“The bottom line is to involve everyone in the intellectual life of campus,” Low said. “What we’re hoping with this is to create an intellectual community so a student is the same person in and out of class.”

There are many suggestions and ongoing questions about Living the Liberal Arts Education.

“If [students] have any questions, ideas or suggestions, they should bring them forward. They’re the ones who know what dorms are really like,” Low said.

Student representatives have been involved in every stage of the process and will continue to shape this program. This program is a move towards a more inclusive, intellectual and communal campus where students truly live the liberal arts education.

Contact Emily Rooney at [email protected]