Why weren’t all of you at the Mix It Up retreat?

Last semester, I wrote an opinion piece titled “Nobody Cares,” regarding the lack of motivation and involvement that students demonstrate on a regular basis. There was the idea, at that time, that things would get better: we were at the end of the year after all, and people were likely too absorbed in their studies or a little burned out from events. This time, as we go into only the third full week of classes, I write with a little more frustration and a lot less hope.

On Friday, Sept. 19, a group of 40 or so students took off in a school bus to spend 24 hours on the shores of North Pond. We stayed in nice, heated cabins, and walked along the huge dock to admire the blue lake; we made s’mores, carved pumpkins, played games around the campfire and we shared stories that we wouldn’t talk about in a normal Colby setting. It was genuinely one of the best ‘get-to-know-people’ experiences I could have imagined, and I can’t understand passing up an opportunity like that. 

While I could dwell a little more on all of the cool things that we did or the awesome friends that I met—let me tell you, the Class of 2018 has some pretty fabulous members—I’m writing this pieceto talk about who wasn’t there.

This retreat was completely free of charge. I didn’t have some of the supplies that they requested we bring (a sleeping bag and a flashlight) and those things were provided for me. The leaders of the trip sent out General Announcements to make the campus aware of the opportunity before classes even started, so the student body likely got about 20 emails with the details of the retreat. There was simply no excuse for not signing up.

The Mix It Up Retreat has consistently sold itself as an invaluable opportunity for meeting new people and coming to a better understanding of Colby life from a multitude of perspectives. It irks me that so many students didn’t find the time in their social calendar to make room for something like this.

I’m not trying to be too particular here; I’m not genuinely heartbroken that 1,780 people were too caught up in their own weekend plans to be part of a bigger opportunity; I just think that this is a sign of a much bigger problem. You don’t have to come to the Mix It Up Retreat to show you’re involved because not everybody needs to take part in the same thing, but it’s still important that students take part in something. The student body often does not take advantage of its surroundings and we rarely branch out of the small cliques and groups that have been established around campus. While it’s great to have a pack of people to hang out with every now and then, it shouldn’t stop someone from trying to enhance their web of friends. I don’t understand why, in an environment with so many intelligent and worldly students, we limit ourselves to only a few close relationships.

I want Colby College to feel like the Mix It Up Retreat felt. I want to be able to hear other people’s stories and learn from them because I came to this school to be surrounded by seekers of knowledge and lovers of learning. We didn’t choose this school for the beer pong or the sweaty Heights parties, so why prioritize them over something far more worthwhile? Let’s agree to end the apathy.

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