The Experience, Clubs & Orgs
February 17, 2015
Last Saturday, our men’s ice hockey team donned green jerseys in support of Connecticut College's Green Dot program, turning their game against Tufts into an event aimed at raising awareness about issues of sexual assault and power-based violence. The Green Dot program was adopted at Conn in 2010 as a part of the Think S.A.F.E. Project, initially as a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Today, the Think S.A.F.E. Project is very much a part of Conn culture. The program helps to train and educate students, faculty and staff about issues related to domestic, sexual, personal and dating violence, as well as stalking. This includes information about prevention and bystander intervention.
As I entered the ice rink that night, I saw a sea of green. Students wore their Green Dot training t-shirts, green pucks were up for raffle, green posters covered the walls, students banged together green noisemakers and the hockey team wore their special green jerseys, forgoing our usual blue and white team colors. Even our mascot showed his support by swapping out his normal shirt for the one pictured.
While we won the game that night 4-1, it wasn’t our only victory; our campus community came together in support of an important initiative.
February 9, 2015
Every year, TEDxConnecticutCollege (of which I am an executive board member) holds a TED-affiliated local conference with speakers from our campus, the New London community and the world (by way of webcast). The event lasts several hours and includes a breakfast snack, lunch, and a wine and cheese reception afterward. As such, it is not very accessible to children, so this year we joined with the greater TED organization and held TEDxYouthDay2015.
As a chance for local elementary and middle school students to voice their ideas and visions for the world, YouthDay2015 was a rousing success. There were more than 20 kids from nearby Clark Lane Middle School, The Country School and The Williams School who participated by giving talks to an audience comprised of teachers, parents and Conn students. Their talks ranged from "Rectangulum," a vision of an alternate universe, to the difficulties of discrimination. Some were hilarious, others were incredibly moving. Audience members were seeing a clear and unimpeded view of the future because they were hearing the innocent thoughts and beliefs of those not yet influenced by society. Far too often, we forget that unchecked ambition that we too held tightly as children.
After their talks, the kids got involved in a variety of activities, from flower pot painting to storytelling. One station gave them the chance to imagine their future selves. It was a fantastic morning of activities, great ideas and friendships. We will continue holding YouthDay conferences in the coming years, but, in the meantime, you can get a sense of this moment with the community by visiting www.tedxconnecticutcollege.com to see the inspiring talks from this year’s event.
January 19, 2015
When I first think of Connecticut, I don’t think “outdoorsy.” Slowly, however, I am discovering all sorts of beautiful places around Conn. Bluff Point is one of them. Located a mere 15 minutes away, it’s a four-mile loop, a lot of which is along the ocean. I'm part of the Outdoors Club and I recently found this photo from one of our late fall hikes. The view was really quite stunning. The best part: I've met lots of new people from around campus. The mood of the day was bright and fun, and we had a perfect ending by heading to Two Wives pizza restaurant after for an Outdoors Club dinner. (They are located in downtown New London and their brick oven pizza is delicious.)
January 14, 2015
There is only one word to describe the Upright Citizens Brigade: hilarious. This touring improv group based out of New York City, also known as UCB, is sidesplittingly funny. Lately, they have performed at Conn each year. UCB begins by interviewing a student about life here at Conn, and this year it was a first-year student named Carson (as seen in the photo above). This interview provides the material for their set, so the show includes our college's inside jokes. And, to add to the fun, our student improv groups, Scuds and N20, opened for UCB, making it a great night of comedy.
January 1, 2015
On Aug. 21, 2014, the names of my fellow classmates were meaningless to me. They were just different arrangements of letters floating around in different combinations on the Class of 2018's Facebook page. I had no way of knowing which of these names would come to develop meaning for me. I had even less of an idea what type of meaning, and to what degree, these names would take on.
5 letters: Julia. She made a Facebook post about majoring in biology and watching movies, and now we sit together for almost every meal.
4 letters: Emma. She commented on a post about music. Now we have matching star earrings in matching piercings.
Of course, there are many more names I've come to know, and lots belonging to upperclassman, making it more unlikely that I would've been able to guess which names would soon become a significant part of my life.
With the new year starting, I look at these names differently. All of these names are connected to all of these faces that I'm used to seeing every day. Right now, I sit at home during winter break and I'm not seeing these people every day anymore. I'm with my family and my friends are scattered across the country — in fact, some even extend past the U.S. borders. I was perfectly content here before college, but now I find I'm missing something. I've had all of these experiences in college with all of these new, wonderful people and now they aren't with me.
I find myself pointing out camels on everything I see and texting pictures to my new friends — even if the camels are just plastered onto cigarette advertisements at gas stations. When I see signs for Connecticut marked as "Conn," I feel like I have a special knowledge shared only between the ethereal, camel sign-maker (who must indeed be behind the creation of the sign) and myself. They pose as a reminder of the connection that I now have to this other facet of life.
At this point, it seems strange imagining what my life would have been like had I picked a different school, or even had I taken different classes or lived in a different dorm. Often, my friendships with people come down to being in the right place at the right time. Other times, they come from taking a risk: auditioning for something, or attending a club meeting that you're not even a part of. All of these seemingly random decisions I've made over the years have led me to this college and these friends and now, after a few weeks of winter break crossed off the calendar, I can very much say that I'm missing both of those things right now.
December 26, 2014
December 12, 2014
I've enjoyed ice skating ever since my friend invited me to the neighborhood rink in middle school. We had to go with her mom, and I almost died at least 20 times, but it was fun. By the end of middle school, I was taking figure skating lessons. I towered over the other, younger skaters, most of whom only came up to my knee. Surprisingly, I moved up in the skating world faster than my small, youthful friends. Once I finished the basic skating levels, and a few figure skating classes, I quit.
I haven't skated much since, so I was excited when I found out that Conn has an ice rink. Many of the schools my friends attend don't have rinks on campus. On a recent Friday, I went to my first open skate here. It was only $1 to skate for 3 hours, and all profits went to the College's Relay For Life chapter.
I was eager to skate again, but a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to do the things I used to be able to do. Most of my friends were having trouble just staying upright, though, so there wasn't much pressure. After I got accustomed to the ice again, I started trying to do some of my old tricks. Some were rough, but others went pretty well.
I was in the middle of the rink practicing when someone skated up to me and asked if I was in the figure skating club. I said that I wasn't, and she told me that I should be, and that she could give me more details if I wanted them. I haven't agreed to anything yet, but I'm definitely considering joining. I really miss ice skating regularly, and it was flattering to be spotted as a possible member. I've already signed up for the email list, and we will see where things go from there.
I think the highlight of my night was when my friend Brion joked that he wasn't impressed by my tricks, and then, seconds later, face-planted on the ice. If he had gotten hurt, I wouldn't be able to note it as the highlight of my night, but he's fine, so I can tell you that it was HILARIOUS.
December 3, 2014
November 28, 2014
TEDxConnecticutCollege, a student-run organization, organized the first TED Youth Event on Saturday. As a precursor to the main TEDxConnecticutCollege, local middle-schoolers were invited to give a presentation on the theme "Worlds Imagined." Some took on the role of technology in our lives and the detrimental effect it can have, while others discussed the continuing problem of racism and discrimination present even in a middle school setting. Having given my own presentation at last year's TEDxConnecticutCollege, I loved seeing younger speakers taking on the same challenge I did, asking themselves how best to convey a message in a creative and entertaining medium. After the conference, the kids took part in activities and workshops supervised by the TEDx staff. There were tables full of Rubik's Cubes and plenty of paper available for painting and drawing.
November 25, 2014
One of the hardships of coming to a college so far away from home (I'm from Pakistan) is the strange limbo I find myself in during holiday time. I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hannukah, and I knew my peers wouldn't really celebrate Eid or Diwali, which is the Indian festival of lights.
Well, I was wrong.
This year, ATLAS, the international student organization, organdies a Diwali celebration in The Pink House, which is home to the Gender and Women's Studies Department. Religious studies professor Dean Accardi explained the festival and ATLAS provided Indian food for everyone to enjoy — some of which was home-cooked, the rest ordered from a nearby restaurant in Groton. I ran into the most unlikely professors there: from Sunil Bhatia in human development, to Priya Kohli from mathematics (whom I had never met), to Blanche Boyd, my fiction teacher this semester. The event seemed truly familial. The students argued loudly — in Hindi and Urdu and Punjabi and English — on who had to serve the food, who could lounge around and who got cleaning duty. It was a truly south Asian experience, with multi-linguality, camaraderie and a good amount of fun bickering.
November 23, 2014
On Nov. 11, 2014, outside Harris Refectory, the Connecticut College Chamber Choir and Orchestra gave the community an unexpected treat. Passersby were invited to try their hand at conducting the Hallelujah Chorus, a preview for the choir and orchestra's concert that weekend.
Video edited by Dana Sorkin '16
November 19, 2014
November 12, 2014
As the two senior staff members of The College Voice, Connecticut College's student newspaper, Editor-in-Chief Ayla Zuraw-Friendland '15 and I attended the American Collegiate Press' annual National College Media Conference. This conference allowed us to meet journalism students and professors (as well as many professional journalists) and gave us new insight into how we can continue to improve all aspects of The College Voice.
November 3, 2014
Each semester, the College's chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society of Psychology, inducts new members. The mission of Psi Chi is to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellent scholarship and to advance the science of psychology as a whole. Psychology students here are invited to apply for Psi Chi membership if they have achieved a certain level of academic excellence in psychology and have demonstrated a true commitment to the field.
As a member of our chapter's six-person executive board, I assisted in this fall's Psi Chi induction ceremony. Nine psychology students were accepted. During the ceremony, inductees signed a pledge to symbolize their commitment to both our campus chapter and the national Psi Chi organization. New members then lit a candle and recited the organization's mantra: "Honor is the reward of merit."
November 2, 2014
Watching the sun filter through the clouds from an elevation of 4,802 feet is not an everyday experience — unless you're part of the Outdoors Club, that is. Last Saturday, we hiked Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire's White Mountains. It was a tough four miles up to the top — at least my legs certainly thought so — but there were moments when I stopped to think to myself, "This is incredible." The roar of a waterfall kept us company as we climbed, a grassy clearing at the peak made me feel as if I was in an adventure straight out of "The Lord of the Rings," my breath was visible in the brisk air — all of these things made for a refreshing change of pace in my Connecticut College experience.
October 31, 2014
There are hundreds of resources available to students on this campus, but I want to highlight one often-overlooked gem: the Print Shop. Printing on campus is just as you'd expect on any college campus: Send your document to the cloud and download it on any college printer. There are occasional technical issues, of course, but in general, our system means that most students don't bring printers to campus. Because ink and paper are expensive, the College designates each student an allotment of funds each semester for printing costs.
Imagine, however, that you are working on an event and you need to print 30 13-by-19 heavy card-stock posters. Outside of the College, you might have to head down to the local FedEx office or copy center and get them printed for a hefty price. Here, though, we have the Print Shop, and it's just like having a Kinkos on campus.
You can print almost anything under the sun, right from your College account or your club's fund. As part of the student-run TEDxConnecticutCollege organization, I have huge print jobs to manage nearly each week. Sometimes, I need glossy posters or postcards to stuff mailboxes. Other times, I need large, vinyl banners to hang to advertise our latest event.
Whatever the need, the Print Shop succeeds and the staff is knowledgable and understanding, particularly about the occasional rush jobs students need. As a bonus, the shop is only a few hundred yards from my dorm room.
October 31, 2014
N20 is nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. Fittingly, it's also the name of a Conn College improv group, one of two we have on campus. Last Friday, the group hosted a "baby shower" performance to welcome their new members ("babies,") John and Julia. The group played a variety of humorous short games and I couldn't stop laughing. It was fun to see my peers and friends perform on stage so effortlessly.
October 30, 2014
Occasionally, The ConnCollegeLive Experience will invite guests to blog about their experiences as a Camel. Today, Bettina Weiss '15 contributes to the guest blogger series.
On Oct. 29, Connecticut College students participated in a National Day of Action inspired by the art and activism of Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University. Sulkowicz has been carrying a 50-pound mattress wherever she goes on campus for her senior art thesis. The New York Times calls Sulkowicz’ project “an artwork of last resort.”
In 2012, Sulkowicz filed a complaint with Columbia after an alleged sexual assault. Her complaint led to a hearing before a panel that found the alleged perpetrator not responsible. This decision was upheld upon appeal. Sulkowicz brought her case to the police but decided not to follow through after the report. She began carrying her mattress around campus to protest the fact that her alledged attacker was allowed to remain enrolled at the university.
In response to Sulkowicz’ project, the coalition “Carrying the Weight Together” was formed by students and activists who are working to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence. It is made up of members from No Red Tape, Carrying the Weight Together at Columbia University, Hollaback! and Rhize.
When students at Connecticut College heard about the National Day of Action to support Sulkowicz, we sprung into action. Sal Bigay '16, the Student Government Association (SGA) chair of residential affairs, brought the idea to our SGA and began planning with the Public Art Task Force subcommittee. Members of SafetyNet, a peer education group within the Think S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault Free Environment) office were brainstorming ideas on how to bring the movement to our campus. At the same time, the sophomore seminar class “Art of Protest: Occupy ___” was also inspired to bring the movement to campus. In a phenomenally successful collaboration, all three groups came together to organize our College's participation in the day of action. Representatives from each group met, and off we went. “This is how things need to happen at Connecticut College: authentically and passionately,” said Bigay.
October 24, 2014
Each year, Harvestfest is one of the most anticipated events at Fall Weekend, Connecticut College's annual parent and family weekend. More than 70 student clubs, academic departments and athletic teams set up shop, selling a wide array of Camel- and Connecticut College-inspired clothing, gifts and treats in a bazaar-like atmosphere. We asked the ConnCollegeLive Experience photojournalists to fan out and find the best and most interesting items for sale.
Laura Cianciolo '16
- I first stopped at Coffee Closet’s table and purchased a caramel apple dipped in sprinkles — it was the perfect snack for the fall weather.
- Every year, I purchase a poster from The College Voice’s table, and this year I loved the hand-drawn map of campus.
- I stopped by Miss Connduct’s table and bought a few of their handmade cards for my friends who have fall birthdays.
- Conn’s chapter of Oceana was selling adorable keyboard protectors covered with fish and other sea creatures.
- Launch, Conn’s entrepreneurship club, was celebrating its first Harvestfest with brightly colored, delicious cookies shaped like spaceships.
Kirsten Forrester '17
- Slavery Ends Today homemade cards: Simple and thoughtful, the cards have positive messages such as "You are beautiful." It's nice to have a few around for future gifts.
- Ski team flannel: Two words: so cozy! They're the perfect attire for Connecticut winters.
- Ski club winter hats: One, they complement the flannel for the complete New England winter look. Two, I love pom poms.
- Relay for Life Elephant frame: So cute! My favorite animal is an elephant. Images and statues of them cover my walls at home, so this frame makes for a great addition to that ever growing collection.
- The College Voice posters: You just can't go wrong with the image of a camel in a turtleneck sweater on your wall.
Jordan Thomas '15
- Cadenza, Conn's literary magazine, sold prints and shirts with a one-line camel design. The artist, senior Jennifer Jackson, drew the camel logo without ever lifting the pen from the paper. It's inspired by Picasso's famous work.
- The campus newspaper, The College Voice, had customized camel M&Ms — in Conn colors, of course!
- The Dance Club sold cute and functional tank tops with an adorable Camel in the corner — great for workout clothing!
- Forest Justice, the resident treehugger club on campus, sold tie-dyed t-shirts with the logo of a tree hugging a Camel. What's not to love about that?
- The college's chapter of Psi Chi, the Psychology National Honor Society, had brain-themed coffee mugs for sale. Since this is my organization and this one was my idea, I'm a bit partial to it ... but who wouldn't want a blue and yellow brain on their morning cup of coffee?
Mike Wipper '17
- After hearing the faint sound Mariachi, I found myself at the club's table, more than happy to snack on some "chicharones," a traditional Latin American dish made from fried pork skins.
- Sprout! set up a free sample booth complete with hot sauces made from Conn's very own organic garden. My favorite is the spicy mango salsa.
- The campus chapter of Slavery Ends Today sold delightful greeting and birthday cards, which ended up being perfect as I still needed to buy my girlfriend a card for her birthday. All proceeds went to the organization that's committed to ending human trafficking.
- At the Men's Hockey team table, I purchased the perfect gift for my father, a hockey player himself: a bottle opener made from old sticks.
- All around Harvestfest, I saw people wearing awesome friendship bracelets. I wandered around until I found the Dance Team's booth with bracelets covering the table. I must say, they were pretty stylish ... and they're hand-made!
October 20, 2014
Music was in the air last weekend.
Fall Weekend kicked off with a Musicians Organized For Bands' Rights on Campus (MOBROC) concert. The event gave student bands an opportunity to show off their musical abilities and gave the audience a chance to show off their '90s grunge-inspired dance moves. The lineup included student groups Canopy, the SB's and Montreal Protocol, but the real treat came at the end of the show: We got to hear our beloved President Bergeron sing. When she and her husband, Butch Rovan, got on stage, the audience began to chant "Queen B" and bow down.
It was quite the experience. Needless to say, "Queen B" gave a flawless performance.
It was interesting, although not very surprising, to see a lot of faces from MOBROC groups performing one night later during the weekend's other huge musical event — the annual Fall Weekend a cappella shows. For years, the seven a cappella groups have performed together during Fall Weekend, and the crowds have grown so much that two shows are needed. The pinnacle of the night might have been when the ConnArtists performed "Fix You" by Coldplay. It was so moving that the audience was completely silent.
Other groups lightened the mood with some humor: Vox Cameli performed a zealous Lady Gaga mashup, the Williams Street Mix drew inspiration from SpongeBob and the ConnChords pulled out some unexpected dance moves.
It was such a musical start to the weekend, with tons of talented Camels involved.
October 13, 2014
One of the most unique places on campus is the Barn, a former squash court where MOBROC — Musicians Organized for Band Rights On Campus — bands can practice and perform. I hung out with Canopy as they practiced. Check it out!
October 10, 2014
Every Friday, the Fiddleheads Food Co-Op, based out of New London, visits Conn and sets up a farmers market for students and staff to buy fresh food and snacks. Alissa Siepka '17 (left) volunteers at the stand (and, for her time, receives 10 percent off her purchases). I stopped by with Jake Summers '16 and Jasmine Massa '17 to inspect some of this week's offerings, which, in this case, included pomegranates and local cheese. For my study snacks tonight, I'll be enjoying fresh bread and grapes!
October 8, 2014
October 6, 2014
Last week, Fresh Check came to campus for a day. Fresh Check is an organization that travels from college to college, promoting mental health awareness. Booths included Love is Louder Than, a project emphasizing the positivity of love and healthy relationships; Be Yourself, a project that encourages self-acceptance in the LGBTQ community; and Paint Your Art Out, a project that sponsors art as a means of self-expression and stress reduction. These booths and others filled Tempel Green with information and activities about the issues and available resources regarding mental health.
This photo comes from my 9 Out of 10 Pledge. One out of 10 college students contemplates suicide, but nine out of 10 college students can serve as sources of support and education. My signature, the light blue one in the center of the photo, is my pledge to help take action if a friend or peer may be struggling.
September 25, 2014
People spend four years at college exploring many different paths but, at Conn, these years are also spent learning how to be a Camel. There are many ways to embrace your Camel identity, connecting with your peers and your community. The number of ways to spend time are plentiful, including playing sports, volunteering in the community or joining student clubs and activities.
Last year, my first year at Conn, I joined a few clubs. I went to several meetings and decided what worked and what didn't. By the end of the year, not only had I found groups and causes that I cared about, but I had taken leadership positions for the upcoming year. I've become an active member of Umoja — the Black Student Union — and I've met close friends in the process. I also attended Green Dot training, a program dedicated to ending sexual assault and power-based violence on college campuses. I'm also now the vice president of Eclipse, an annual, student-produced dance show.
Now, I have a chance to represent these clubs — the activities that I love so much and that helped me feel at home here — publicly as a spokesperson at the annual Student Involvement Fair. I distinctly remember the fair from my first year and how that one event helped me choose my path. Leading up to this year's fair, I was excited to be on the giving end of the process, helping new students find their passions and activities.
Something surprising happened: I found myself signing up for new clubs, as well. A good walk through the fair presented clubs and groups that I hadn't seen before, along with activities I had previously overlooked. I'm someone who loves to be active and have lots do to over the course of a week. As I go through my four years, I will probably join more clubs, change the activities I'm involved in and find other ways to be involved on campus. That's part of the joy that comes with finding a Camel identity.
September 23, 2014
“One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four …” The voices are in unison. I stare around me; these are the people I’ve known for a year. We’ve met three times every week in the College Center at Crozier-Williams to practice improv. We’re N2O, the short-form improvisational comedy group at Connecticut College and it’s our first show of the year.
The warm-ups are done and the rituals begin: we sit in a circle and talk, and have quiet moments to prepare. Each one of us is nervous — this is also our first combined show with the long-form comedy group on campus, Scuds. A lot rests on this show because we have auditions the day after and we want a good turnout. We want some of the spectators to show up because the people who often think they’re not funny are actually the funniest.
I joined N2O last year in the beginning of September. I heard about the auditions from a friend and almost didn’t make it. In those first few days after Orientation, you run around like a headless chicken and want to join everything — and that’s good, because that’s how you discover things you never knew you were good at. How was I to know that my inherent awkwardness and desire to engage with even the most minor of things would translate to improv? I got to the auditions, however, and I was scared. So many people were so good. The members of the group were informal, though. They could have been ruthless but instead, they were the kindest, nicest people I’d met yet. I got called back and I joined improv.
Joining a club is not just a time commitment, it’s a commitment of spirit. In an English seminar I’m taking this semester, “The Teaching of Writing,” I had to analyze my own writing process in a fair amount of detail. When I got to the end of the paper, I realized that my writing is influenced by improv. I’m committed to the principles of “yes” “and” (agreeing and adding on, to make the scene work) and it’s honestly made me a better writer and storyteller. Even in my personal life, improv has made me more direct, but also better able to engage with the absurd and the fantastical. Between the number-counting and the limb-shaking of a warm-up before a show, I feel immensely glad that I tried something completely new and it paid off.
May 22, 2014
When you revisit an old passion, you often can’t help but throw your all into it. It makes you feel alive. For me, that passion is soccer -- the best sport on the planet.
I started playing soccer in middle school, as an ambitious player who was on on two or three teams at once. While I didn’t continue on to play the sport in college, I’m still getting the chance to play frequently -- this time with less competition.
Intramural athletics at Conn are a way for students like myself to continue playing sports they enjoy, but more for fun than for competition. We make our own teams of friends, and we play two or three times each week against other teams that students have formed. It’s exciting for me because, of course, I get to get back out on the field and, with that, comes a rush of adrenalin.
Playing soccer and meeting new people is what it’s all about. We bond through sweat, hard work and the passion to win. Even more important, though, might be the grace of losing. In fact, other teams have told us that, even when we’re losing, we still look like we’re having fun. While no one particularly likes losing, everyone loves being together and going for the goal. Yea, that’s right-GOOOALLLLLL.
May 19, 2014
The year has now ended, but those last few weeks are arguably the most busy moments of the entire school year. With finals looming, deadlines for next year’s leadership positions arriving and beloved friends preparing for graduating, the last weeks of the year beg great balancing acts. Though I am no acrobat, I have found a way to keep my sanity: by singing.
Before the semester ended, I reflected on how important singing has been for me during this entire year:
I sing on Mondays and Thursdays in Chamber Choir. We begin our rehearsals with massage trains (very relaxing) and warm-ups. Then we sing. Whether classical or modern, the music relaxes and rejuvenates me. For example, when the choir sings “Ubi Caritas,” a beautiful Gregorian chant, in Harkness Chapel, I can’t help but feel at peace. The livelier song “Wanting Memories,” also helps me let loose. Accompanied by African drums, we move to the beat while singing. Last Sunday, we showcased our talents at our Spring Choral Concert, “Vive l’Amour”. Before we performed, Professor Moy, our choir director, compared singing in a concert to taking the SATs: at a certain point you have to stop practicing, trust yourself and go for it. We went for it and the audience loved it.
On Tuesdays, I enjoyed singing individually. This year, I took voice lessons with the amazing Jurate Svedaite-Waller. Voice lessons are free at Conn for students. I am happy I’ve taken this opportunity because Jurate has revolutionized the way I think about singing. Just like running, singing is a sport. One must exercise muscles throughout the body to produce a beautiful sound. Similarly to running, singing helps me relax and enjoy the moment.
May 12, 2014
When I came to Conn, I didn’t know what to expect at Relay for Life. Here, it’s an event spearheaded by students, but open to faculty, staff and the New London community. In fact, many of the walkers are teams from New London.
I have participated in Relay for Life for the past three years and, although I was away at college for the first time, I continued walking with the same mission. I walked for my grandpa, my friend’s mom, for those I don’t know personally, for those who survived and for those who did not.
It's more than just walking; our Relay has dance workshops and live music to keep people upbeat and energized and snacks to keep us fed. My favorite concessions included Chipotle and Girl Scout Cookies. The local food trucks also made appearances.
To see so many people walking was wonderful. This was my first Relay experience at Conn and I really enjoyed it. I'll be back at it next year, too.
May 7, 2014
Eclipse is one of the longest-running student-produced events at Connecticut College. For over 40 years, students have been coming together to showcase their talents as a means of raising cultural awareness. This year, Eclipse returned to its roots by taking place over the course of an entire weekend. As a new student on campus, being a part of something so historic was empowering and felt quite amazing. I have quickly found myself helping to pull off a spectacular weekend.
Thursday: the cast dinner
On the Thursday leading up to the big weekend, the entire Eclipse cast took over Harris, our main dining hall. The tables in the dining hall were covered with information and music filled the room and set an upbeat mood. Yes, there was even a flash mob which was surely my favorite part of the dinner. I was tasked with controlling the music. When you have a full dining hall and you are the one who cuts the music playing to change the song, everyone notices you. They also notice when you fall off of your chair trying to find the right track. As an Eclipse member, I certainly felt ready for what the weekend had in store.
Friday: the fashion show
For the first time in many years, a fashion show was reintroduced to the Eclipse program. Although 120 seats were set up, almost 200 people attended. They cheered for the models who -- let me tell you -- looked better than the models from New York Fashion Week. Clothes were made, donated and borrowed for this show and all of the collections were flawless. The fashion show also included the Kporma Collection, a cause that works to better educational options in rural Liberia. From our one event, Kporma representatives raised enough money to start building schools.
May 5, 2014
Being able to engage in conversations with other students about critical worldly topics is something that I have learned to appreciate here at Conn. I am a student who has educated himself since freshman year about domestic violence and sexual assault awareness through training offered here at the College. It has been an eye-opening experience that I’ve been able to share with my peers through dinners, outings on the greens and just conversation in passing. This week I added even more training to my skillset, in part because April is sexual assault activism awareness month.
I completed training for the 10x10 program, by Safe Futures, a New London-based program that works with the community on sexual assault education. The training helped me start conversations with other men about activism and gave me the courage to act in situations where it can be tough to speak up. Programs brought to the College, like 10x10, also create safe spaces for learning about difficult issues from various perspectives. Ultimately, by having access to these moments of activism, I find opportunities to give others the same courage I now have.
April 28, 2014
As an arts editor for The College Voice, our campus newspaper, I work closely with both my writers and my fellow editors. The Voice is a resource for students on campus to vocalize their opinions from everything from a favorite event or concert to more serious concerns. I sat down with other staff members to see what advice they would share with incoming students.
April 21, 2014
I joined the women's club rugby team my freshman year, and since then, it's been a whirlwind of practices, games and team bonding. This year, along with the men's team, we hosted two fundraising games to benefit breast cancer research. While the two games were just for fun, we hope to help raise awareness on campus and make a difference in the fight against cancer.
April 15, 2014
Slavery Ends Today, a student organization at Conn, is protesting to end human trafficking. The organization has partnered with the International Justice Mission for a 27-hour-long standing protest. Conn student Olivia Dufour ’16 is one of the 27 million participants.
April 14, 2014
It’s always lovely watching your hard work become something enjoyed not only by you, but also by others, too. After weeks of planning and meetings, the concert I helped plan came to life, and it was amazing. The late-night student performances were part of the festivities for the Inauguration of our new president, Katherine Bergeron.
With the Inauguration weekend in full swing, a student band, Canopy, opened our 11 p.m. show in Cro’s Nest, a performance space in our student center.. The late night show followed “An Evening of Voice and Community,” a public concert and celebration for our president that I was also involved in planning. Canopy played a full hour of songs, but when they played “Magic” by Coldplay, I couldn’t believe my ears. (It was that good.) The second student band, Montreal Protocol, went on stage around midnight and once the band got going, the audience’s jumping signaled they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. It was around this time when President Bergeron dropped by the concert, only hours before the big ceremony that would follow on Saturday morning.
Both Canopy and Montreal Protocol put everything they had into this event, and they thanked me for choosing them to play. I thanked them for sharing their insane talent with all the students who came out on a Friday night. These are the moments I cherish the most at Conn.
Everyone has talent, but sometimes it takes a little time to figure out what those talents are. For me, it turns out the talent is pulling off a successful concert and making sure everything goes as planned.
April 10, 2014
In the middle of November, the first semester of my first year at Conn, TEDxConnecticutCollege reached out to students who had expressed interest in getting involved with the organization. TEDxConnecticutCollege has become an inspiring example of student involvement on campus. A few meetings in, I found myself loving the team and the process.
I am honored to be on the organization’s executive board. Gearing up for our April 12th conference has been a wonderful learning experience; my education at Conn would not be the same without it. Fundraising into the greater New London area has shown me the importance of community outreach and collaboration, while my time doing marketing projects have brought me vital skills in communication. This learning experience can be said of many clubs on campus, and I’m glad Conn has made such a valiant effort to acknowledge how important extra curriculars are in a the 21st century liberal arts education.
This Saturday, I’ll be backstage with an assortment of students, professors, and speakers who have traveled from near and far. From astrophysics to deep sea exploration and the discovery of the Titanic, the TEDx theme, “not all who wander are lost” attempts to encompass “adventure, exploration, discovery, and everything along the way.”
TEDxConnecticutCollege will stream their conference live on Saturday, April 12 beginning at 10 a.m. on their website.
April 10, 2014
Pictured here is a performance by Reflexion, the spoken word group on campus. Apart from putting on shows every semester, Reflexion runs writing workshops on weekends. It's a great opportunity for students who are interested in poetry and spoken word to get their creative juices flowing and work with a great group of writers, mentors and peers.
March 17, 2014
Ok, I’ll admit it...I’m a francophile. A “frenchie”. A French fanatic.
As such, I organize French Club events on campus. Andrea, a Conn student who volunteers in French classes at New London High School, asked me if French Club would be interested in hosting a class of New London students studying French.
"Absolutely!" So, on Wednesday, Madame arrived with a busload of her French students. Madame had already decorated the room to celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and served us jambalaya and a galette des rois (pre-Lenten Kings’ cake). While feasting, we watched the film “Cyrano” on a large screen. We were more interested in chatting with each other, however, than watching the film.
After exchanging the polite ca va? (how are you?), we launched into discussions about snow days, robotics, and the humorous connection between analyzing literature and trapping butterflies. I look forward to continuing the conversation at our next rendez-vous, whether at Conn or at the high school.
March 6, 2014
One afternoon a few days ago, the Peer Educators Empowering Positive Self ("PEeps") were handing out free cupcakes in Cro in exchange for a quick survey. PEeeps are students on campus that are committed to promoting healthy choices and creating innovative educational programs that meet the needs of their peers based on issues faced by Connecticut College students. Topics include stress reduction, alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, sexual health, nutrition, fitness and sports performance.
March 3, 2014
For the first time in a very, very long time, I auditioned to be a cast member of a school production. In this case, it was Connecticut College's production of "The Vagina Monologues." The show comes together in less than a week, making the experience tiring, exciting, but most of all, incredibly rewarding. It all manages to come together in the days leading up to the show.
February 28, 2014
It was a big week for the arts at Conn! The winter musical, "On The Town," was performed in Palmer Auditorium with a full orchestra.
February 26, 2014
On Friday night (and then twice on Saturday), more than 100 students performed Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”. Many had never set foot on stage before. Their black and red-accented outfits ranged from sexy to sporty, and all participants added to the spirit of female empowerment. Monologues answered such bold questions as, “What would your vagina wear?” (a sundress) and “What would you call your vagina?” (“The Camel Van” got laughs.) I applaud those who had the courage to be on stage, speaking honestly and openly. As Sara Bareilles’ fitting song, “Brave,” bumped, performers bowed, and we gave them a standing ovation.
February 17, 2014
The cast of the Vagina Monologues recently initiated a flashmob as part of the global One Billion Rising Campaign. The flashmob was one of thousands taking place on around the world on February 14th to end violence against women. In fact, one billion people (both men and women) from 207 different countries rose to dance on this day. Events like these are constantly happening on campus by various clubs and organizations, and some are even collaborations between organizations. Not only are these kinds of events fun to participate in and watch, but are also for a good cause.
February 16, 2014
On February 8th, I attended the Green Dot hockey game to help raise awareness about Conn's Green Dot program. The program works to end to sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking. The game always draws a large crowd and is one of the only sporting events I've seen where people wear colors other than Conn's traditional blue and white - in this case, it was bright green for a great cause.
February 16, 2014
A journey is something that you don’t always take alone. The Green Dot program here at Conn has truly been an amazing journey for me and my friends. We signed up for Green Dot training during our freshman year together, as a group. Ever since, we’ve gone to athletic games, events and discussions focused on Green Dot’s mission: bringing about an end to sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking.
As Green Dot graduates, we have been trained to recognize “red dots,” like dating violence and escalating situations at parties, in the world around us. We can then step in, a healthy way, to protect others and ourselves. Amongst other graduates, we share our experiences, and we’ve developed a community from which my friends and I learn more and more every year.
Recently we went to the Green Dot hockey game and it was quite spectacular, to say the very least. For the last three years, members of the men’s hockey team have been dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence prevention and initiated this tradition. Darcie Folsom, the College’s director of sexual violence prevention and advocacy, is doing amazing by leading the charge of cultural change here at the College but the journey surely hasn’t been just her. There’s an entire community devoted to the improvement of a culture we don’t condone. To me, that does not sound like a journey one must take alone. Like the Green Dot slogan says, “no one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”
February 12, 2014
When you’re a student, many opportunities will be offered to you. What you do with them is up to you.
In my case, an opportunity came about that I just couldn’t resist. President Bergeron, the new president of Connecticut College recently started her new role, and I have met with her on one occasion. I was truly inspired. By luck, I’ve been invited to serve on a sub-committee helping to plan her inauguration, which will blissfully tie together my time here. I accepted the offer to be a part of the sub-committee, which is charged with the planning of an evening and afternoon event for the President’s Inauguration. What’s so stellar is that this sub-committee is composed of faculty and staff of the College, and I’m the only student. We recently had our first meeting, and I got to contribute a few ideas and concerns I had.
I was somewhat caught off guard. Usually, when I first enter a formal situation or a new class, it takes me a bit of time to get comfortable before I can express my ideas and concerns. After being asked what I thought about a specific topic in our first meeting, all eyes fell to me. I told them what I thought -- me, a student among a handful of adults. We efficiently planned, organized and brainstormed about ideas for our future events … I’ll leave those for a later surprise.
For now, I just want to give a sneak peek on how things here at the College really work: Students, faculty and staff work together to formulate and execute ideas that we brainstorm together. Shared governance is real, and requires both parties.
February 11, 2014
My friends Alysha and Alysia give me the rundown on their Dance Fitness class. It's definitely something I'll be checking out in the coming weeks. Good music, good people and one crazy workout.
February 3, 2014
Do you remember in high school when you were finally old enough to understand what made the "big kids" so cool? Those secret after-school festivities and late-night parties…
Every spring, the annual student-directed, all-inclusive dance show, Eclipse, takes place at Conn. It is one of the highest attended dance events, and it showcases underrepresented art forms, specifically African American and Latino art. This year the theme is “Basement Party,” drawing from high school memories of those “big kids” and the music they listened to.
After my first rehearsal, I am more excited than ever to be a part of this annual production. My group is dancing to Katy Perry's Dark Horse, 23 by Mike Will Made It and Flawless by Beyonce, among other songs. Working with such an energetic group of Camels to produce something amazing has proven to be fun, but also challenging. Sometimes an hour and a half in the studio doesn't seem long enough. Once everyone starts dancing, you can't help but want to continue. I can already imagine the greatness to come, and I am thrilled to be a part of this tradition.
The 38th annual Eclipse takes place April 26 at 7 p.m.
January 21, 2014
Often on Fridays, my friend Joanna will invite me to a Shabbat dinner, hosted by Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus.
Although I am not Jewish, these dinners have become one of my favorite weekly traditions. A group of about 15 people (often including “Coasties,” our affectionate name for students from the Coast Guard Academy,) gather around tables pushed together in the Jane Addams dining hall.
One of Hillel’s leaders guides us in song and, once we’ve finished singing, we pass around challah and share snippets of our week with one another.
I am grateful to Hillel for providing me a calming space to reflect on my week, catch up with friends, and meet new ones. With the new Hillel House opening this month, I’m excited to be part of more Jewish cultural events.
January 8, 2014
As a member of the Sustainability Representative Program, I get to work hand-in-hand with many staff members to implement new sustainable initiatives on campus.
It’s pretty cool to think about: an idea that my group comes up with may be implemented in the day-to-day lives of Conn students, and we get to work with the college administration to make it happen.
Our program has been working with a variety of groups around campus including Dining Services and the new Camel Card office, and we’ve also been working with the City of New London itself.
I think it’s amazing that as nineteen- and twenty-year-olds, we are given the power to literally change the face of this campus. Granted, we had to work for the power, and we work even harder to get the projects done, but the fact is that it’s possible. It’s a kind of power I’ve never felt before. That’s what shared governance in action looks like.
January 10, 2014
On The Can, the weekly publication by the Connecticut College Student Government Association, is, without a doubt, one of the most-read publications on campus. It's a little bit quirky, and filled with upcoming event advertisements, student profiles, puzzles and trivia.
December 11, 2013
About a week ago, I got to see an incredible performance. I knew the topic revolved around mental health, but I really didn’t know what I’d see that evening.
What I saw was extraordinarily powerful. Charlotte Weber '16, the writer, director and lone performer, put on a show that made me think about mental health in an entirely new light. Instead of simply telling, Weber brought to life the effects of mental health issues for her audience. She portrayed her personal connection the topic and connected with each audience member.
Finally, she asked for help. Charlotte asked for all those in the audience to look around them and realize that mental health issues are not closeted in one corner of society; they are all around us. Even on campus, there are many safe spaces and professionals available to help students.
From Charlotte’s performance, I realized I could do something. Charlotte took theater, a topic she loves, and used it to educate the world about a serious issue. I left an inspired activist.
December 5, 2013
I am an aspiring science writer, and since I know experience is everything, I write for The College Voice, Conn’s student newspaper.
My most recent article is about the faculty dance show taking place next week. Since my former roommate and my friend from chemistry are both in show, I interviewed them for my article. Since completing our short, spur of the moment interview during lunch, I’ve found that I act quite differently when I’m asking questions and conducting myself as a journalist, than when I’m hanging out as a friend. I found that my tone of voice changed, my questions were pointed and I included follow-up questions until I got the quotes necessary.
It was an eye-opening realization:even though I am one of the least confrontational people ever, when I’m trying to get quotes or an interview for my article, I can be very determined.
November 29, 2013
Artful Resistance was an event hosted by the education department in the Harris Atrium in response to contemporary issues in education. Students stopped by to make art and express their creativity. In their art, they asked questions including, “what do you love about education, and what have you lost?” and “What does your dream school look like?” Some of the works produced at the event will be displayed at a gallery in downtown New London.
November 22, 2013
It's comforting to know that I can learn more than just academics here at Connecticut College. I now know a little bit of self defense, thanks to the Martial Arts Club.
November 18, 2013
Last weekend, the Dance Club premiered their Fall show. Each night, there was a packed house.
November 17, 2013
I can’t really explain the experience in such a short post, but I’m going to try. Last weekend I went to Harvard University. No, I’m not going to transfer, in fact I’ve realized I actually like where I am even more after this day. I was invited by the V-Day Organization, along with Alia Roth ‘14 and other members who worked on the V-Day: 100 Men Rising project, to the “Speak Up and Take Rape Culture Down” conference.
To openly speak about difficult issues in a room full of people that actually, professionally understand the topic was a very different experience from what I normally encounter.
Often, the point of the conversation is to carefully and calmly educate and inform on a surface level. At this conference, we moved past the basics, diving into more complicated models, examples and stories.
After listening to speakers like Jaclyn Friedman (who has an amazing story of her own,) we had lunch and prepared ourselves for the upcoming workshops. Our whole team was to attend the V-Day session which would feature the the Connecticut College contingent as presenters! Afterward, we would break up and attend different workshops.
In the V-Day session, Alia and others spoke about the 100-men rising video project and the “1 Billion Rising for Justice” campaign in which countries around the world will make video submissions on their promise that 1 billion will rise to end violence against women.
After all our workshops, we all came together and a microphone was passed around to share reflections on the day. As nervous as I was, I spoke. I spoke about the day, my experiences, my hopes, what I felt, how I wanted things to change, what made me happy and what I’d learned that I would bring back to Conn. My heart almost jumped out of my chest by the time I was done and I felt like I had just run a marathon.
The day was spectacular. It brought things into perspective for me and reminded me that, yes, there is a long way to go in the world, but that we as a college are really very far ahead when it comes to activism. We often forget that. I’m glad I have the peers that I do... they bring about amazing opportunities for all of us, and this year on February 14th, 1 billion will rise for justice.
November 15, 2013
Sustainability at Connecticut College is much more than "going green." It's part of the academics, the student organizations and the big-picture mentality on campus and I got to talk with students who are leading the charge.
November 10, 2013
Spencer Francus '14 handing out pamphlets at the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht event in Evans Hall. Kristallnacht literally means "night of broken glass." It comes from the shards of broken glass from Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues following attacks throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in 1938. Spencer, like many other students on campus, is an active member of Hillel, the Jewish community here at Connecticut College.
November 15, 2013
In elementary and middle school, Halloween meant dressing up and trick-or-treating with friends. In high school, it meant passing out candy to our neighbors’ children. At Conn—at least, in Knowlton House—Halloween means an evening with friends.
On Halloween, Knowlton raises money by transforming into a haunted house. This year, a concoction of black trash bags, caution tape, skulls, red paint, sheets, prosthetic legs, mattresses, black lights, neon paint and Jell-o did the trick. That, along with a dedicated team of Knowlton Knights.
Mayra and Kevin, our fearless house leaders, summoned us for costumes and makeup long before tours began. While other students hopped into their cute bunny and cat costumes, dabbing a few whiskers on their cheeks, we swathed our bodies with “bloodied” sheets among other garments and slathered red and black paint on our faces. Having nannied in France over the summer, I took on the persona of a mad (folle) French maid.
My role consisted of lying across the table in the conference room while Alicia—playing my revenge-ravenous roommate—“devoured my guts.” (That’s where the Jell-o came in.) When Mayra led the tour groups into our room, I pretended to shriek in pain, thus urging the group towards their next fearful destination. With the last group member out of sight, Alicia and resumed our chit-chat only to repeat our act at the sound of Mayra’s horn.
I doubt I will ever again participate in a fundraising campaign as creative or fun ever again. Then again, there’s always next year.
November 14, 2013
Recently, I joined an improvisation group and it’s been an amazing experience. The games we play and the conversations we have are truly uplifting. Being able to open my mind and just say what first comes out - while also incorporating comedy - has to be one of the best things I’ve done so far at college. It relieves stress, too. No matter how long the day or how stressed I am, I always look forward to meeting with the group to do some improv. I’m part of a group that’s willing to help me improve my improv, no pun intended.
Speaking of improving, we just gave our first show last week following many weeks of preparation. I was really nervous, but the auditorium was packed with friends I knew. After the show, we got an amazing round of applause and raving reviews from everyone... It was an adrenaline rush throughout the entire show. Overall, improv has been a stress relieving experience that I’m so happy I spontaneously auditioned for at the beginning of my sophomore year.
October 28, 2013
On Friday the 18th, on the cusp of Fall Weekend, I jumped in the car and drove to the train station to pick up Emma, one of my best friends from high school.
We had decided over the summer that she was going to come visit me over Fall Weekend at Conn, in part because I knew my family wasn’t going to come visit me, but also because I knew there would be plenty of stuff for us to do.
Plenty doesn’t even begin cover it.
On Friday night the festivities began with lively a cappella concerts from the seven groups on campus. These were followed by a jaw-dropping performance by America’s Got Talent finalists Fighting Gravity, a black-light dance troupe displaying (wait for it) gravity-defying illusions. A dance ended the night in the giant tent. I asked Emma if she had fun as we walked back to my dorm, and she replied with an enthusiastic “Of course! How could I not?”
On Saturday we took a tour of the campus, watched the soccer game, and explored Harvestfest, where all the clubs on campus set up tables in the giant tent to sell merchandise as a fundraising opportunity. After dinner at the dance, I introduced Emma to other friends from around campus and also took several priceless pictures in the photo booth.
Sunday, after walking back from a lazy start in Harris dining hall, I asked Emma about her impressions of Conn. As a student who lives in New York City, she was awed by the fact that even on our small campus we remained busy, how there was always something to do.
At the train station I hugged Emma good-bye and she told me to come visit her in NYC. She then said that she hoped to come back to Conn and visit again, maybe next semester. I said, “Yes! Totally!” but I’m not sure how I can top another visit as great as this one.
October 14, 2013
This is a Rugby game that I attended during fall break. Rugby is a club sport on campus, but the team practices and treats the sport as a varsity team. Similarly, rugby is the only club sport that stays on campus during Fall Break along with the rest of the varsity sports teams. About 95% of the team had never touched a rugby ball before playing for Conn College. With great coaching and mentoring from experienced players, the rookies catch on pretty quickly to a sport that was foreign to them months before.