VISION Meeting Draws a Crowd

VISION Meeting Draws a Crowd

Sarah Finn

Social Climate VISION, held Wednesday, February 17 in the African, Latin, Asian and Native American Cultural Center (ALANA), was born from the merger of two on-campus groups: VISION and the Cushman Conversation Series. VISION is a monthly meeting of leaders of multicultural and identity-based groups who discuss their programming and events on campus. The Cushman Conversation Series consists of student-led discussions and actions in response to the results of the Colgate Campus Life Survey (CCLS). The groups teamed up in an attempt to improve student life at Colgate through student action.

The attendees of Social Climate VISION represented diverse groups on Colgate’s campus, each ostensibly interested in trying to change Colgate’s social climate and discuss issues such as drinking culture, sober programming, the hook-up culture and dating. While the majority of attendees hailed from sororities, members of cultural groups, Brothers, the Benton Scholars, The Network, The Student Government Association (SGA), The Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (The COVE), the Student Committee on Providing Entertainment (Scope) and fraternities were also in attendance. A few students claimed to be there simply because they were interested and wanted to be involved in the discussion.

Sophomore Alex Restrepo began the discussion and brainstorm session with a discussion about what has already happened at Colgate to address and improve the social climate. Various attendees brought up pertinent events, among them “‘Gatestock,” a proposed spring festival that includes all student groups, and Greek Week, a series of events and activities open to all students. Both of these past events are meant to facilitate collaboration and inclusion of each group in a social setting at Colgate.

Next, Restrepo encouraged attendees to talk about future social programming to address issues from the CCLS and improve Colgate’s social scene for all students. Attendees agreed that alternative programs need to remove their “alternative” label to become better attended by students.

Most of the issues raised at the meeting pertained to the deep divide between Greek Life and non-Greek Life, and between events with alcohol and sober events. To solve these issues, some attendees agreed that collaborative events between Greek organizations and cultural organizations would bring a variety of people together and work towards solving some of the social problems at Colgate. Others in the crowd disagreed and claimed such events might just be a temporary fix for a larger, deeper problem in Colgate’s social structure.

“One of the problems of Colgate’s Climate is that people come with a lot of passion, but not with the time to follow through with making these events happen,” co-organizer of this event senior Kyle Blum said. “It is difficult to add something else to students’ current activities.”

A few ideas that came out of the brainstorming session were a Campus Climate Life Manual to suggest guidelines and policies for collaborative events, more Colgate-catered events that facilitate over-21 drinking and social collaboration, as well as a contest where students vote on their favorite collaborative event to receive funding from Colgate.

Senior Conor Tucker also mentioned that Vice President and Dean of College Charlotte Johnson has set up a $10,000 fund for events that aim to solve issues presented by the CCLS, a fact that many attendees seemed to be unaware of.

“We accomplished a lot, but it was not perfect,” junior Shelly Forster said. “I think if more people knew about it, this could have been a great opportunity for more students to get involved in these issues.”

Restrepo emphasized that this event was about concrete efforts and actions on the part of students. Tucker encouraged attendees to exchange contact information in order to follow through on their discussion at the Social Climate VISION.

“What makes this go is you guys,” Tucker said.

The Social Climate VISION is the first of a series of events aimed to encourage better programming at Colgate. The next two events will discuss the Racial Climate VISION and the Sexual Climate VISION.