Whitewashing Tradition

“In a white room with black curtains…” As I sat at an Earth House family dinner, a friend confirmed that the inside of Earth House would be painted over this summer. The playful mood disintegrated, replaced with icy silence. I looked around, comforted by the sight of memories made tangible. I cringe to think that generations of memories are to be whitewashed at the order of our administration—the same administration that advocates community building. After Fishbowl was cancelled in the name of creating new traditions that reflect the “true” values of Connecticut College, the administration is now proposing to destroy a tradition in Earth House that reflects community building and creativity.

“The college experience” can be broken down into two key elements. First, a challenging academic environment. Second, an inviting environment for socializing. The former effort I feel has been up to par. The latter effort has been slipping. As a hyper nostalgic senior, I look back fondly at the past three and a half years. Conn has opened many doors for me and prepared me to make confident strides towards The Real World. However, I cannot help but lament the changes that have arisen at our little school. Like the Earth House walls, the administration is slowly and systematically whitewashing the place I fell in love with.

When I first encountered the Conn social scene, I was particularly thrilled to find weekly live shows sponsored by FNL. Outside of the school-sanctioned realm, there were plenty of parties to be found. From Earth House to Abbey House to Freeman Tower to some Harkness floor party, there was always a place to socialize with people of all age groups. The social life accurately represented Conn’s best feature: its tightly knit community and the fluidity among different student groups. Over the past three and a half years, the administration has been cracking down on excessive drinking on campus. And so, the socializing is moving with great force to New London bars.

Admittedly, the administration has done some great things to provide alcohol-free social events on campus. “S2D” is a notable addition to weekend social life that clearly holds a lot of potential. With the new Social Host program, we are also given the opportunity to serve alcohol in a controlled, responsible manner. Good things, for sure.

But this is not enough.

After the cancellation of Fishbowl, we were told that we had the unique opportunity to create a new tradition; to go down in Connecticut College history as the students who ushered in a new era, with less frivolity and more good, clean fun. (Similarly, future Earth House residents will be able to submit a new, school-sanctioned mural. Hopefully one that boasts the super active relationship between Conn and New London… Too soon?)

I understand that Fishbowl was a tough event for the administration to sanction proudly. Sadly, like the impending doom that awaits Earth House, the cancellation of Fishbowl is a perfect example of the rapid cultural shift occurring at Conn as a result of the administration’s one-track mindedness. And yet, this article is not about Fishbowl. This is a call for Conn’s administration to do a thoughtful, respectful job with its power.

Bring the weekends back to Conn’s campus. And I don’t mean a “Cro” dance every Saturday. The percentage of Conn students that actually attend dances is tiny. They cost quite a bit of dough, and only encourage the binge drinking and sexual harassment that the administration is so keen on eliminating.

So, what needs to be done? My answer will always be more concerts, but this is not representative of the entire student body’s desires. Luckily, the responsibility to solve this problem falls on all of our shoulders. But while I love organizing shows with my pals in MOBROC, our job as students is to be students (go figure). We do the extra stuff because we love to do it. It is the administration’s job to step up and give us a bit of positive reinforcement.

There just needs to be a balance. Give me the occasional drunken Cro dance, but let’s brainstorm with open minds to create additional options for those who don’t enjoy getting “grinded” on every Saturday. This is the only time in our lives that shared governance is truly possible, our chance to avoid The Real World for a moment more and foster a semi-paradisiacal living environment. The students are poised and ready. It takes two to tango, Admins.  •