Our take on The Black Sheep
Last week an anonymous student posted a letter in dorm bathrooms across campus expressing an extreme disappointment with his or her Colby experience. It was a call for action to those on campus who identify as a “black sheep” within our community, and the idea was illustrated with a rather graphic image of a black sheep hanging from a noose. The author’s, whom we shall refer to as “The Black Sheep,” conveyed in his or her note the frustration he or she has perceived as the average Colby student’s preference for partying over academic and intellectual discussion, and chastised the admissions office for selling lies. A few days later, black spray paint was found on the walls in West Quad explicitly stating, “f*** the system” and a black sheep image was sprayed in entryway of Bob’s dinning hall. While we respect the student’s right to freely express their frustration, doing so under the façade of unsettling posters and aggressive words tastelessly painted on our buildings is hardly a proactive way to affect change on the Hill.
While we respect The Black Sheep’s right to civil protest, we take issue with the graffiti. Using spray paint to deface campus property does not target the “system” The Black Sheep protested against, rather it burdened the already over-worked the Physical Plant Department (PPD) and its staff, who have spent hours scrubbing away the angry words. We are not the first to say this, but we would like to reiterate how counterproductive and poorly aimed this affront was.
To dismiss The Black Sheep’s message because of its poor delivery would be too easy, however. Therefore, we ask is “the system” at Colby really broken? While it may require some dramatic reworking, the system at Colby is producing incredibly intellectual and thoughtful students. This week dozens of students are presenting at the undergraduate research symposium, last weekend hundreds of students volunteered around Waterville during Colby Cares Day, and three German seniors were recently awarded Fulbright scholarships.
And if you are uncomfortable with the party scene, there is already a group of students advocating for an alternative living environment free from exorbitant drinking and the partying culture. This initiative will go into effect next year with Oasis housing where every student involved will pledge to live completely chem-free inside and outside the dorm.
The system is not broken; we truly believe that there is a place for every sort of interest on the Hill. The Black Sheep’s actions show us, however, that we may not be communicating what resources are available. There is no shortage of discourse on this campus, but we hope that The Black Sheep incident can stand as an example of why we must strive for a high-level of quality in our discourse, so that it actually is effective and impacts the appropriate audience.
Editor’s note: Traditionally the Echo publishes the SGA Report Card as the editorial in the final issue of the year. We elected to publish this year’s SGA Report Card exclusively online this year because we considered The Black Sheep to be a more topical and universally relevant issue. Click here to read our review of this year’s SGA.
—The staff of The Colby Echo