A year of unfortunate cutbacks
A typical year at Colby includes: a Freshman lobster bake, orientation T-shirts for Freshman and upperclassmen involved in organizing the first few days, Foss dining hall open on the weekends, the health center open on nights and weekends, dining hall-sponsored barbeques without a $1 extra charge, Fall Ball and much, much more.
But with the ongoing economic crisis that has hit Colby and its endowment as hard as any other university or college, these are some of the cuts that have been made for the 2009-2010 school year.
The night I got back to campus after COOT2 my freshman year, every freshman and upperclassman at Colby who had come back early for orientation poured onto the field behind Bob's, excitedly anticipating a freshly prepared lobster dinner. This year, the long-standing Colby tradition and book-end to the Colby experience (there is typically a lobster bake during freshman orientation and senior commencement weekend) was unceremoniously cancelled and unacknowledged except for the "R.I.P. lobster bake" COOT2 leader costume.
Another detriment to Colby's class of 2013 orientation program was the lack of memorabilia, i.e. T-shirts with inspirational mottos for the year. Although the class of 2010's T-shirt was an ugly tan-ish sand color, it sent the message that recycling was important. A year later the class of 2011 received an orientation T-shirt with a motivational message about mapping your own path for the future. This year, with the inspirational theme of "Colby I am..." the lack of T-shirts meant that the motto would not be remembered for long and the tradition of relaying the orientation theme throughout the year, via T-shirts, was broken.
The next travesty to Colby tradition is the closing of Foss dining hall. Foss, the home to the vegetarian-vegan-I-don't-want-to-eat-another-crappy-meal student and the origin of the weekend morning Belgium waffle, was eliminated on weekends. Unfortunately, as of this past week, the administration has sought to fill the void left by the closing of Foss by hiring additional staff in the other dining halls and moving the Belgium waffles.
The closing of the health center on nights and weekends, the focus of much discussion and controversy on campus this year, appears to be another unfortunate cutback. With the imminent threat of swine flu and obvious fear of other sicknesses reaching campus, the elimination of a "safe-spot" to go at night has left many concerned. No one wants to risk getting a roommate sick and there is nothing worse than being sick in a dorm room. For those who live more than a couple hours away from Colby, going home is just not an option. Then there is the whole issue of finding the appropriate food to eat and liquids to drink when you are feeling 100 percent crumby.
Another interesting alteration to campus policy was made to dining hall sponsored private barbeques. Every other year, the dining halls, if asked a couple of days in advance, will provide burgers, hot dogs or chicken, salad, pasta salad or potato salad, drinks, cookies and a grill in exchange for Colby ID numbers; in other words, one meal credit per person. This year, however, in addition to a meal credit, every student must pay an additional dollar, not a high price but still an unnecessary inconvenience when trying to organize a big barbeque for friends.
Lastly, the worst cutback: the cancellation of Fall Ball. A Colby tradition of who knows how many years. Something Colby students and alumni alike look forward to every fall. One of the only chances to draw the Colby community together, faculty, students and alumni alike. Cancelled. And the campus has yet to hear a public announcement about this cut when the ball is normally in October or November. Is it a rumor? I know many are hopeful that it is!
As the crisis continues we can only guess what cutbacks will come as the year continues. Cotillion? The senior lobster bake? Bob's dining hall? Library hours? Gym hours? The number of security workers on duty? Even JanPlan? Let's hope not and cross our fingers for the end of the economic crisis and for the sake of Colby traditions.