Open Letter: How Much is too Much

Colby,

We need a reality check.  

We have a lot to celebrate this spring, but over the past two weeks, we’ve seen an incredible amount of vandalism done to this community, both tangible and intangible. From the seven broken exit signs in the Apartments and four (+) in Miller street, it’s not hard to miss that some of us are not treating this place, or its people, with respect. This message is not meant to generalize our community into a single problem, but rather to bring new awareness to a communal issue. As a member of this community, regardless of class year, hometown, residence hall or off-campus house, you should keep reading.

Unfortunately, there is much more that we cannot directly quantify that points to a misguided understanding of being citizens of a bigger community. From beer cans that litter our pathways to the off-campus citations and ongoing vandalism at bars, we need to recognize that this student body has issues that lie fundamentally in how we view ourselves as individuals in the context of a greater community. When we disrespect the citizens of Waterville, leave trash for others to pick up, put ourselves in danger of alcohol poisoning (or worse), and break property at the expense of others, we are representing far less than what we supposedly strive to be when we all submitted our applications to study at Colby as high school students.   

Colby is not a homogenous American high school or a playground of zero consequences. Colby is, and needs to be, a place where those who want to be treated like adults act like adults. In the past few weeks, and in continuation of some underlying themes throughout Colby’s student history, we all have fallen short in this regard. Although we are all guilty as a community for failing to foster the most responsible environment possible, there are certainly some members of our community who are more guilty than others. We all can do a better job of holding ourselves and our peers to a higher standard, and therefore believe that the Colby Affirmation is the standard that all students should follow during their time at Colby.

As an individual reading this, it is possible that you are the complete antithesis to the problem that we are experiencing. If so, thank you. However, if you do not think that it is possible to hold yourself to a higher standard in this home that we share with more than 2,000 other people, then there may be other places where you will be welcomed, but Colby is not one of them.

The bigger picture here is that we are forgetting, or ignoring, the unwritten expectation to be an all-around good person. Being a “college student” is not an excuse to drift away from the behavior of a morally-balanced human being. This standard is simple: if you make a mess, clean it up. If you break something, take ownership for it. When you don’t, the burden of doing so falls upon students and other members of the community, who then suffer, either economically or socially, as a result of your actions. Are we really this selfish?

The ideal Colby experience is meant to provide individuals with opportunities to socialize, learn, and navigate a college environment to its fullest. Many of the ways in which Colby students have acted recently do not satisfy these standards of college life in an appropriate manner. We need to meet these standards halfway with our own self-respect as well as the respect for others.

There are so many incredible people that make up our student body, so let’s not let our community collapse into an entity that leaves its trash for others to pick up and causes damage. This behavior and implied mentality of entitlement may be part of a past generation of Colby students, and it may be part of the so-called “traditions” of some individual groups who associate with Colby’s social life, but it needs to stop. For many reasons this attitude of the past cannot be that of the Colby student body in the future.

Moving forward we need to take better responsibility for our own actions and call attention to those of our peers. Let’s be better: Is this really too much to ask for?

Sincerely,

The Undersigned Members of Colby Student Government & Colby Affirmation Committee

Matt Hawkins ’17

Jenner Foster ’17

John Kensinger ’17

Hannah Insuik ’17

Chandler Smith ’18

Molly Manuel ’19

Muheb Esmat ’17

Noah Tocci ’17

Sam Kane ’20

Jack McGeachie ’17

Kiernan Somers ’17

Liz Paulino ’18

Cecil Brooks ’17

Ben Freeland ’20

Sam Lee ’20

Eliza Baker Wacks ’17

Maddie Partridge ’18

Alexa Busser ’17

Chris Scammel ’18

Karolina Serhan ’17

Holly Lallis ’19

Nick Rosenburg ’17

Caroline Dove ’17

Merrill Read ’19

Anita Guaman ’17

Willow Grinnell ’20

Luc Marrie ’17

Kirsten Johnson ’20

Matthew Garza ’20

Ella Maddi ’19

Charlie Beck ’17