Delinquency, Codeword: Social Options

Delinquency, Codeword: Social Options

Tuesday was not a good day. My car had given up the will to live and was residing in the Hamilton Auto Clinic. I was at the library studying for a test. It was raining. So when I got a distribution e-mail titled: “SPRING SOCIAL OPTIONS ON CAMPUS,” I was intrigued. Perhaps there would be talk of sunshine, of fun events that I could anticipate and discuss with others, distracting myself from the no good very bad day I was having. Maybe it would be a gleeful update about Spring Party Weekend.

Alas, I know I should expect differently. There was no talk of “spring social options on campus.” I, along with every other Colgate student, was instead bombarded with a list of rules about “social options,” the administration’s codeword for “party.”

Some highlights: If you have some friends over, call ResLife and ask permission first. If you invited over to a friend’s house or apartment, call ResLife and ask permission first. If you are 21, you may only drink one drink an hour.

My personal favorite: If you own furniture, you can’t bring it outside – even to your porch – unless it is “lawn and patio furniture sold for outdoor use.”

Really, I was surprised by how little I was surprised. But this e-mail scared me. Any Colgate student can point out the blatant hypocrisy of the message (something in paragraph seven seems a little insincere, perhaps…).

That is not why it is scary. It is an excuse for Campus Safety and the Office of Residential Life to punish students, which they have been doing in record numbers this year, no matter what you are doing. If they don’t like something that you are doing, they can point to any paragraph they choose and say, “Hey, we told you about this rule right here. Look, it’s even in an e-mail with an all-caps subject line.”

Say you have a four-person on-campus apartment. Say you invite four people over to watch “Lost.” You can all be written up for being at an unregistered party. Say you are all 21 (maybe even a 22-year-old in the mix) and decide to enjoy your legal right to consume a few casual beers. You can be written up for not informing ResLife and handing out ID bracelets. Say it’s finally a sunny day and you wanted to sit on your townhouse porch and read. Well, it had better be on the stairs, because if you bring that Ikea chair out there, you’re in violation.

Obviously, this is being a little paranoid. But the message is clear, regardless of whether or not they implement their threats. The comment that one Campus Safety officer made to Emily Steiger, as she reported in last week’s Commentary section: “Colgate owns you,” is not only extraordinarily offensive but seems to be indicative of the administration’s mindset. Colgate students are evil little sinners who will be up to no good unless we say that everything they might do once the sun comes out is prohibited.

My issue is not that Colgate has rules about student conduct or about drinking. They should. But with this e-mail, the university administration is setting up their battle stance, giving their list of demands and setting up for war. This is a damn shame.

We should all be on the same team, working together for what students want and what the administration with its wisdom advises. Instead, the administration is constantly throwing out more and more rules and regulations and punishing those students not “responsible” enough to call and ask ResLife for permission to go to a friend’s house.

They tell us to be responsible and then outline in no uncertain terms exactly what narrow, bureaucratic and impossible behavior they define as “responsible.” Colgate owns you and is just sending you a pleasant little all-caps reminder in case the promise of a sunny day makes you think otherwise.

Shame on you, administration, for telling us that you own us and disguising it as “residential education” or “life lessons.” But mostly for offering me hope on a really bad day that I was getting a list of sunny social options and instead yelling at me for activity I might potentially engage in. Colgate is the best place in the world, and I love being here with a passion. Why can’t we all just agree on that and get along?