Sophomore Residential Seminars Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony To Officially Open Program

Holly Mascolo and Stacey Stein

In celebration of a new classroom, The Sophomore Residential Seminars (SRS) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, November 8  in Drake Hall. Students and faculty attended the event, with several members of the faculty speaking about the program in general and the progress that it has made.

The SRS program offers various seminars for students to take during the first semester. Additionally, students take a quarter-credit course second semester to reinforce the material and lessons covered during the first semester course. Students live and participate in various extracurricular activities together. This culminates in a Colgate-sponsored trip that ties into the themes of the class, taking place over winter break.

The first to speak at the ceremony was Associate Professor of Philosophy David Dudrick, who teaches a class in existentialism for SRS. Dudrick revealed the classes for next year, which will include “Existentialism,” “The History of Coffee and Cigarettes,” “Hunting, Eating and Vegetarianism” and “Native Americans of the Southwest: Community and Continuity.” He also emphasized the importance of the community the program builds.

“This program, though travel is an important part, is really about community and getting to know and care about one another,” Dudrick said. “That provides a foundation for what we want to do.”

 Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks acknowledged all of the people involved with the program, including those from the Mellon Foundation, whose grant helped to make the program possible, and the people who worked on the classroom’s construction. He also explained that the program will expand next year to have an additional class because of the high demand from students.

“We’re trying to build this out as there’s more demand,” Hicks said. “We’ve invested in this space but really we’ve invested in the education of our sophomores and undergraduates.”

Dean of the College Suzy Nelson spoke about forming the idea for the program and her original goals for it. Nelson hopes the space will allow students and faculty to work together more intimately.

“We cut the ribbon on this space, but we really cut the ribbon on an idea,” Nelson said.

Many students have enjoyed their experience in the SRS program so far, including sophomore Monica Murphy, who believes that students can especially benefit from some of the experiences.

“[In] my seminar especially, we focus on food,” Murphy said. “We do a lot of cooking. We’ve gotten to go to Professor Cushing’s house a few times to cook.”

Murphy also appreciates the close-knit quarters in which the students live, and how this contributes to the program as a whole.

“I really like the fact that all of my classmates are ten feet away from me,” Murphy said. “We’re building a community that exists outside of the classroom. Living with people gives it that really cohesive quality. The trip puts it all together and involves everything we’ve learned.”

According to Dudrick, there are many benefits to the program. Dudrick especially enjoys the fact that SRS blurs the lines between what goes on inside and outside of the classroom.

“It seems like there should be a space to carry some of those things from the classroom into discussions outside of the classroom because you think stuff is interesting or has relevance to your life,” Dudrick said. “We want there to be a back and forth between your residential life and your life inside the classroom.”

Dudrick also believes that the community-building aspect is important, as SRS brings people together who may not have necessarily met otherwise. According to Dudrick, when students know each other, it pays off in classroom discussion.

“It’s not merely academic,” Dudrick said. “It’s more about the community that comes to exist among students. It’s really exciting to have class discussions with people who obviously know and care about each other.”

Overall, Dudrick has enjoyed his time in the program.

“It’s among the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” Dudrick said. “I love teaching at Colgate, and I didn’t think I could love it more, but I do as a result of this because it is a way to really get to know a class, and it’s been really gratifying.”

First-years can begin applying for the SRS program in January 2014.

Contact Holly Mascolo and Stacey Stein at [email protected] and [email protected]