Upon returning to CC, students were unanimously voicing their growing discontent with administrative decisions impacting student life and campus culture. Most recently, the sudden end to 24-hour health safety and security on campus as well as the cancellation of the infamously beloved Video Dance Party for the incoming First-Years, sentimental seniors and NSO Leaders have had the student body concerned.
Initially I thought the administration was on a roll [insert sarcasm]. From buying and transforming the properties bordering Yampa field that had for years housed cultural traditions, cutting funding and support for Llamapalooza, and increasing tuition exponentially, I felt like the school was taking on a sense of empiric manifest destiny with little consideration for the voice of the student body. And now, ending another campus tradition, VDP, during New Student Orientation week has eliminated an event in which students could express a love for quirky weirdness in forms of bizarre dress and dance.
While my strong opinion still holds on the lack of administrative transparency and seeming lack of interest in maintaining certain integral cultural aspects of Colorado College, my opinion did shift on the indefinite cancellation of VDP.
I had been attending FYE mentor training sessions the week before school commenced. During the second day of my preparation to take on the role as FYE Mentor, Rochelle Mason made an appearance and gave a short presentation. A brief all encompassing question and answer session ensued after her presentation in which one of the students asked what the administrative motive was behind the cancellation of the VDP event.
Rochelle Mason made the valid point that the purpose of NSO week is to introduce new students to a college life of healthy engagements in academics, social events, and personal well-being. She argued that VDP during New Student Orientation week didn’t encourage this philosophy and instead encouraged 17 and 18-year olds to take part in a night of excessive drinking and irresponsible behavior.
As an alternative, the campus proposed a night of health and athletics, which in part was a calculated decision to show off the new multi-million dollar fitness center but to also inspire a healthy lifestyle while at Colorado College. At first, I was skeptical about an “athletics night.” It sounded lame and I doubted the turnout, but my students in both of the FYE classes I mentor really enjoyed the activities and found the new fitness center to be incredible and exciting.
I agree with Rochelle Mason and others who initiated the change that it is inappropriate to have VDP during New Student Orientation week, and frankly I didn’t find VDP to be so spectacular as a first-year. One
fellow Junior student recalled being vomited on in the face by an upperclassmen while at VDP her freshman year.
While it is important to consider how the school encourages culture for incoming freshman during their first weeks at school, it is also vital for the administration and the student body to remember the priceless value of the current culture at Colorado College. The culture at this school needs to be sustained and improved, rather than diminished.
The cancellation of VDP during New Student Orientation is just a small issue compared to the importance of administrative transparency regarding actions that directly impact the student body. For example, the sudden drastic cut in Boettcher Health Care hours, increasing tuition, shockingly expensive additional program fees for CC blocks abroad, and a lack of support and resources for mental health despite the promotional hype, to name a few.
We students should take pride in the unique, down to earth, passionate, and hilarious culture of Colorado College, and the administration should as well. Why should VDP be the main event where everyone floods into the Arc and dances for hours?
Jumanji, for example, was an innovative and new campus event produced by student run Playhard Productions, which was amazing to say the least. There should be a continuous flow of creativity to develop new events that perpetuate the culture on campus, while maintaining inclusivity and integrity. The students are an undeniable powerful component of what makes Colorado College the place we all love. Therefore we should use our passion, creativity, and voice to make CC exactly what we want it to be.
Maia Wikler ’14