September 1, 2023 | NEWS | By Zeke Lloyd
On the morning of First Monday, hundreds of students attended one of two events that celebrated the beginning of the year. Less than a hundred yards apart, one lasted over an hour, while the other ended after just a few minutes.
The first of the two events began in Shove Chapel at 9 a.m.
Just outside the chapel, near the center of the school’s main quad, Tahamina Prity ’26 distributed coffee and doughnuts to tired Colorado College community members. The CC Student Government Association hosted the morning event. Notably, the students surrounding the small breakfast-laden table were disproportionately freshmen – many of whom were told to attend Opening Convocation by Priddy Leaders or First Year Program professors.
Around 8:50 a.m., the event staff moved the crowd off the stone path, making way for the long trail of faculty marching towards Shove Chapel. Adorned in robes, the faculty entered the chapel and sat in rows behind President L. Song Richardson, Student Body President Vicente Blas Taijeron ’24, and a central podium.
The stage was most densely populated section of the room. The rest of Shove Chapel was sparsely populated; roughly four or five audience members sat at each pew.
“I was told it might be fun,” said Satchel Bell ’27, whose Priddy Leader encouraged him to attend. Bell didn’t know exactly what to expect, saying that he anticipated it would be similar to a religious school’s pep rally.
“I’m happy because class starts 90 minutes later,” said Hunter Markowich ’25, another audience member.
President Richardson took the podium first. She spent the first few minutes of her speech welcoming the class of 2027.
“Congratulations,” said President Song. “You are about to embark on an academic adventure unlike any other.” She went on to mention the unique advantages of the Block Plan, some of the school’s recent accomplishments and the opportunities for growth that arise from life’s challenges.
“At CC we don’t do easy. It’s why we do the Block Plan, the only school who was able to pull that off 50-plus years ago,” President Richardson said. “We were the first school in the country to have an anti-racism commitment. We were the first in the Rocky Mountain West and the eight in North America to achieve carbon neutrality.”
While most of the speech would apply into any of the Opening Convocations between now and 2020 – the first time the event took place after Colorado College released a document titled “Our Plan To Become An Antiracist Institution” – President Richardson tied the speech to the present on two separate occasions. Around halfway through, she said the world needed Colorado College students to help the world adapt to “emerging technologies,” such as artificial intelligence. Richardson also mentioned the prevalence and danger of nationwide discord, stating that “democracy is hanging by a thread.”
Student Body President Blas Taijeron followed her, although he began in a very different way. After taking a moment to compliment the crowd’s energy, he embarked on a rousing six-minute oration.
“A CC experience for me, just this morning, was waking up at 6 a.m., going to Amy’s Donuts, getting ten dozen doughnuts, and passing it out to students,” Blas Taijeron said. Throughout his address, he highlighted ways students can give back, maintain humility, and recognize the privilege that comes with attending an institution like Colorado College. “Never mistake a degree for licensure to over explain and analyze,” said Blas Taijeron near the end of his speech.
The entire event, from the faculty’s entrance to Chaplain Kate Holbrook’s final remarks, lasted 62 minutes.
Around 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the pomp and circumstance taking place west of Nevada Ave., a much shorter ceremony took place just across the street. A large group of seniors gathered on Yampa Field, popping bottles of champagne to celebrate their final first day of school. Not all seniors brought champagne, nor did every senior drink.
The Office of Campus Safety dispersed the crowd in less than fifteen minutes. Campus Safety Officers poured out champagne bottles and collected the names and identification information of some students.
Cathy Buckley, Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management, posited that this was not a tradition she had witnessed in the past five years. John Ramsay, the Campus Safety Officer working the day shift that morning, had not seen prior classes celebrate the tradition in his 14-year tenure.
“For me, it’s more of a concern. We do have Champagne Showers. Wednesday, last day of the block, last day of the year. Let’s do it,” said Buckley. “On the Monday before classes start? Probably not the best decision.”
Many of the seniors moved eastward, taking refuge in an off-campus house on Weber Street. Many seniors continued the festivities there until class began at 10:30 a.m..