As any attendee of a Colgate tour knows, Colgate prides itself on tradition. It’s nice to have these deeply-engrained ideas of what is intrinsically “Colgate.” I’m sure in 20 years, I’ll be excited for each Colgate Day, and search for Adam and (St)Eve during visits to campus.
Another tradition, however, is that of working hard and playing hard. It’s a fact that Colgate is known for its social scene. It’s an aspect that draws students to Colgate, and upon which alumni reflect fondly. In fact, I attended a Colgate Entertainment Group event over break, and I literally could not count the number of partying references or alcohol-related comments made. Sure, you can make some ignorant crack about alcoholism from this observation. But the fact is, many successful alumni attributed the social scene – and the social competence it helped form – as equally important to their success as academics or perseverance.
I think there is much to be said about the social scene at Colgate. While there are numerous (and understandable) grievances regarding it, the fact is that it is truly unique to Colgate. Attending college in a village like Hamilton fosters community, much of which occurs through mutual – and albeit often disgruntled – culmination of the night at the Jug. The ritual of going out in Hamilton is something that must be experienced to understand, and it binds every participating Colgate student. And, the ability for students to have fun in a town with about five bars is indicative of Colgate’s social fabric.
What’s also impressive is the academic diligence at Colgate. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, this school is hard. I have literally no other high school friends that work nearly as hard as Colgate students. But, like alumni reflected, I think a balance between the academic and social is key – it really is necessary to “let off steam” before being able to focus. While this doesn’t necessarily have to equate to throwing back shots, the option of the vibrant and active social scene certainly allows for the balance to be possible.
There are other schools located in villages, and other schools that are equally academically rigorous. But, the synthesis between the two is unlike any other school of which I am aware, and I think it is that which makes Colgate so unique – and for the tradition of work hard, play hard to permeate generations. It’s an aspect of Colgate upon which many alumni look back fondly.
This part of Colgate, however, has been severely controlled and, it seems, threatened by changes in the administration’s actions toward parties, write-ups, et cetera. I tried to find exact numbers for how many weeks fraternities were on probation this semester compared with the past few semesters. While unable to acquire the specific numbers, I can say with confidence that this semester was unprecedented in the reasoning, length and severity of probations. The lack of parties at fraternities will – and has – only caused under-aged students to, for example, pound liquor in their dorms. Somehow, I don’t think that’s the effect the administration intended.
Another negative impact is how difficult new rules have made it to have social events with more than a few people. If I wanted to celebrate my 21st birthday on April 25 with Champagne and 30 of my closest, 21+ friends at my house on Broad, I would need to register it and go through all of these other bureaucratic hurdles. I think it’s ridiculous that Colgate expects every single little party to be registered – Colgate should trust that its students are responsible and competent enough to be able to drink a beer without doing something dumb. So, if I were to have this hypothetical f??te, I would simply do it without registering, effectively driving the social scene underground. Once again, I can’t imagine that’s the administration’s intent.
The last restriction on drinking games is similarly unfair, although it hasn’t explicitly changed this year. The implication with banning drinking games is that it promotes binge drinking. Well, unless players are particularly ambitious, drinking games like flip cup and ‘ruit involve beer. Even when I was in high school, it was obvious that chugging vodka from a Poland Spring was more conducive to intoxication than a couple of games of ‘ruit with disgustingly watered-down beer. The only reason I could think of for restricting games is to keep houses clean, and, hate to break it to you, but that’s already a moot point.
I don’t know what we as students can do to keep the administration from restricting us further. The recent issues and altercations over SPW make me nervous of even further crackdowns – Colgate is liable for on-campus events, after all. But restrictions are not going to stop anything, just drive it underground – and instigate students’ contempt toward the administration.
I want to be able to look back at Colgate fondly, including on the social aspect. I want to be able to reminisce with alumni of any year on the Jug or the frats. I don’t want to feel like the administration is telling me when, where and what I can drink – that was my parents’ job, thank you. I’m an (almost) 21+ adult, and it’s laughable that some arbitrary administrative entity is trying to keep me from celebrating.
I truly feel that these changes are threatening of the tradition of Colgate – a school with a strong social scene that also advocates diligence and working hard. I truly don’t understand the justification behind many of the changes, nor do I feel students have any influence, capability or authority in trying to make them more lenient. Colgate is what it is, and that’s not going change, but it would be really nice to feel that the administration trusted and respected its students a little more.