Colgate struggles with inclusivity. I think most people would agree with that. You don’t even need to be a student here to notice it. Just walk into Frank Dining Hall at dinner time. A certain amount of clique-ishness at any college is inevitable. In fact, it’s inevitable pretty much anywhere. People gravitate toward people who are like them. But the whole Mean Girls meets “Social Darwinism” thing feels especially real at Colgate. For a small school, we’re pretty remarkably divided.
I’ve heard people describe the Colgate student body as fitting into two categories: the people who “go out” and the people who “don’t go out.” However, I think this description is overly simplistic and misleading. I think the first category is where all the divisions lay. That is, I think “going out” is what splits the student body. We all have different ideas of a perfect Friday night and we find people who share the same version of it as we do. We join groups and organizations that create the kind of events we want to go to and connect us with the kinds of people we like. Once we find that, we don’t look any further. We don’t need to. We can hide behind these groups and spend successive weekends with the same ten people and claim we’re having fun. And maybe even mean it.
Then all of a sudden, the relentless darkness and perpetual snow dissipates and SPW comes around. I think SPW has the unique capacity to bring different pockets of this campus together in valuable ways. Sure, I recognize that getting the entire student body drunk together in a muddy field isn’t on the top of the administration’s to-do list. But I don’t think SPW should be brushed aside as just a big outdoor drinking festival. Countless alumni say SPW is their favorite Colgate memory. Some people come back just to partake in it. It’s a lot more than just a time to test your body’s limits. It’s a rare chance for inclusive “partying” to take place without feeling forced or artificial. You don’t need to name three brothers at the door and know your way around a dark basement to get in. You can just show up and hang out. Outdoor party spaces are ideal for this. But even if you aren’t the kind of person who likes to get drunk with 300 strangers and wait in line for an hour just to use a port-o-potty, there are still so many other opportunities for you to do something different and meet someone new. And at a school as small as Colgate, that makes a big difference.
This was my third SPW at Colgate. At first, I couldn’t quite figure out why it was the best one. But then I realized what I liked best was about much more than just experiencing sunlight and fresh air for the first time in four months. I liked knowing that everyone at this school was able to have a good time on a beautiful day. I liked hanging out with people I hadn’t seen since my Legacies class as a first-year. I liked meeting a kid from my town who I had no idea went to Colgate. But most of all, I liked watching all the seniors jump into Taylor Lake and having the comfort of knowing that I have another year to promise myself I’ll actually do it.
Contact Kara Schindler at firstname.lastname@example.org.