It’s hard to believe that four years have passed by so quickly. It’s a mantra now, something to remind me of everything about Colgate that has been so important. Yet, even as the final weeks come to their inevitable close, I’m forced to ask the deeper question: what has happened? What is it that the liberal arts education (and everything in between) actually taught me?
I remember that on every college tour I went on in high school, the guides would mention that college and the education you were to receive is all about “finding your passion.” Usually the tour guide would then mention how they are molecular biology major with a minor in medieval studies, which would make me say to myself, “wow that’s such an interesting combination. This person is cool.” I’m also probably the only person who actually said that to themselves but it’s something I think we all can relate to. My degree says that my passions are French and Political Science, and I think to a certain extent that’s true. I love French, but I had already loved it before and I kind of fell into it. In the same vein, I’ve always like politics, history, etc. and I kind of just fell into that field as well. I’ve had a great formal education and I’ll be proud of it for a long time.
But then there is the other half of our liberal arts education. There is everything that goes on outside the classroom that is equally as important as what goes on inside. Over the past four years, I think almost every senior can agree that we’ve seen a major shift in what Colgate says you can and can’t do outside the classroom. It’s one thing to regulate student drinking for safety reasons, but is another to construct a social experience that fits in with the mission of the school. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the newspaper, it is that there is special language spoken by administrators. It is one filled with euphemisms like “community leaders,” “learning moments,” and “living the liberal arts.” I think that we all wanted to “live the liberal arts” to some extent when we came to this school, but Colgate wants us to live them in the way Colgate thinks is right.
If you were to ask me where I think my liberal arts education has excelled the most, I’d have to respond it has been with the newspaper. The whole notion of “learning how to think” is easily taught in the newsroom. Writing and reading stories, dissecting language in the editing room and chasing the ever elusive notion of the truth is so natural to all of us. We never had to have a residential experience or be part of a special classroom to learn any of that. We learned it because we had time to grow and work together as students in an extremely organic environment. The Maroon-News does get a lot of its funding from the school, but we have an almost unprecedented level of freedom when it comes to how we operate. We’ve made some big mistakes as individuals and as an organization, but we learned to work through them as people. We have come together as professionals to make something that I truly believe in from week to week.
I look around at this school and I hear rumors and facts from the people I know on campus about what is changing, and I fear for the future. It would be okay if no one at this school ever had a single party ever again, but I fear that something even more valuable is being taken away from us. College is the time in your life when you are granted the once elusive gift of autonomy. I don’t know how much autonomy students are going to have here one day. The ever-growing bureaucratic machine of the administration will eventually have its hands in everything, and the freedom that students need to “live the liberal arts” will no longer be there. I hope that the newspaper will always be the club where people really learn to be people, and that future generations of editors will love it in the same way I do now. I just hope that everything, both the good and the bad, will be around for them to experience.