Editor in Chief
I have a bad taste in my mouth.
It began forming back on April 18, when the class of 2014 received an email with information regarding Senior Week, which is taking place May 13-16. The email stated that seniors were required to pay a minimum of $150 for three major events in order to remain on campus. In various other emails in the preceding weeks, seniors were reminded that failure to purchase a minimum of three events would result in their loss of on-campus housing.
Essentially, not participating in Senior Week means that seniors are responsible for finding their own housing in order to attend commencement activities on May 17 and 18, because once a student concludes their housing agreement, they cannot return to live in their former room.
Perhaps I’m acting spoiled, but this scenario seems like a poorly planned way to end what has been a spectacular four years on this campus for me, as I know it has been for many others as well.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear how much I truly appreciate Springfield College and everything that this institution – no, this family – has done for me. I have learned so many valuable lessons and feel truly equipped to head out into the world to become a leader in service to humanity. It was a blessing and an absolute privilege to attend this college.
With that being said, this is not the send-off that I was expecting from a college that has in my eyes strived to put students first. Asking seniors to pay $150 is fine for some, but there are many who chafed upon reading that email.
Senior Week should be a celebration of the conclusion of a collegiate career alongside some of the most important people in our lives – not a choice between forced participation or what is essentially exile.
There must be a better way to transition seniors into becoming Springfield College alumni than this. I should be proud to be an alum, not scrambling to find housing for commencement if I am not interested in participating in activities that feel forced upon me.
This is by no means an indictment of our class board, headed by Kevin MacBride, the president of the class of 2014. I respect that group immensely for providing the best possible options for Senior Week. They were instructed to plan the week in this fashion, and chose activities that they felt were going to provide enjoyable and memorable experiences.
By extending Senior Week by a day (from three to four days), MacBride and company were able to give seniors more bang for their buck. Instead of paying $75 for two events over the course of three days, students are paying the same total amount ($150) for three events over four days. I applaud the senior class board for doing their job, and doing it with excellence.
“I understand that money is something that’s really a different issue for everyone,” MacBride said. “[But] the experience that you are getting is way more than $150. You’re getting to do really unique and awesome experiences that you’re not going to be able to do, especially with this group of people that is your classmates, your friends, your peers, people that you’ve grown with over these past four years. To be honest, I really wouldn’t say that there’s a price tag on what we’re doing, because I feel that the meaning of it is way more valuable than the financial aspect.”
I completely agree with MacBride’s sentiment that paying money now will lead to creating long-term memories. What I question is the larger school policy of forcing seniors to participate in events that cost so much money in the first place. I understand that as an institution, the college does not want to promote excessive drinking and partying the entire week, which is why there are mandatory events. I also understand that events cost money – but perhaps that is where we need to begin rethinking Senior Week.
Senior Week should be about having an amazing time with friends, classmates and peers. But why does that require expensive events? Why are the only two free events – the Senior Brunch and the Senior BBQ on Senior Green – the only ones that are not part of the requirement to remain on campus? Couldn’t we as a college come up with several non-expensive events that are mandatory, but do not require students to pay so much money?
This college is about spirit, mind, and body. Why not incorporate that mission, which has become so near and dear to all of our hearts, by planning activities that offer a variety of options?
As freshmen, we were all required to participate in Humanics in Action Day. Why not plan a partial service day during Senior Week? Not only would that bring us full circle, but it would be inexpensive and unite the senior class one final time.
Remember the field days such as Reed Rampage that were offered freshman year? Why not offer a senior field day of sorts that could be done on campus?
Events such as these could be held on campus in addition to some of the more expensive, off-campus events that are being offered this year. Imagine getting the option to choose three events, two of which could be on campus, and one of which cost $50 and was off campus. That scenario would still require students to participate in events instead of excessively drinking all day, but it would no longer alienate seniors by asking for a large sum of money.
Senior Week is a fantastic opportunity for one last celebration of a collegiate career well spent. The problem is that in the eyes of many seniors, it is not accomplishing that goal. I stood in line to buy tickets for a friend who is away on a practicum this semester, and in a line of approximately 40 seniors, I did not see a single smiling face. Instead, I heard grumbling and saw Senior Week being turned into a negative, instead of the positive that it truly is.
There are better ways to send off seniors into the world to become alumni. Together, we could revamp the system and come up with a schedule that could lower the cost and yet still provide an incredible week for seniors to celebrate.
When it comes down to it, we as a college – students, faculty, staff and administration – need to take a good, hard look at Senior Week as it currently exists, and ask ourselves:
Is this how we want to say goodbye – or is there a better way?