Posts tagged campus life

MIRRORs

So this past weekend Bennington held it’s annual day-long outdoor festival, Sunfest on our commons lawn and students spent the day circling the campus having fun with friends and listening to good tunes while eating cotton candy. In the evening we also had some bands play in our student center performance space. I hadn’t planned on going as I was very tired from running around all day, but my friend came in late from a tech rehearsal and asked me if I felt like going out to dance with her for a bit at the show. When we got there this band, Lip Talk, was playing and woah can I say that it was by far the best show I’ve been to in years. They had amazing stage presence and a really stellar array of songs (including the one posted here, which they played as their finale.) Afterwards I went to get one of their free stickers but they had already run out (because, like I said, they were so good!!!) but the singer was packing up the merch stuff and was kind enough to give me the very last sticker she had on her, right out of her wallet. I can honestly say I have never felt more star struck or fluttery than I did walking away from this awesome show. Anyway, I recommend listening to this song in the shower, as it goes really nicely with an undertone of rushing water. 

second message woo: are there poetry open mics on campus? how fast is the internet? what phone providers work best? what's the nearest major city? i suck at math and science, do i need to take gen ed classes in those subjects? are there like intro to writing classes? is there a way to get bumped up into higher level writing classes? also, so i'm from nyc and i've never lived in a small town and i'm kinda nervous about adjusting, any thoughts/reassurances?? — Asked by Anonymous

hello and prepare yourself:

there are open mics every other week not specifically for poetry but sometimes (less often) the bookstore will host poetry nites// the internet is pretty fast and wifi is everywhere on campus but it can get pretty slow around midnite when everyone watches netflix at once// the nearest major city is albany new york it’s about an hour away// you don’t have to do any gen ed classes at all here// there are 2000 and 4000 level classes and the 2000 level courses are all pretty good courses to take if you want to get started in a discipline but they aren’t always explicitly “intro” courses and if you think you’re it makes sense you can probs meet with a teacher and talk your way into their 4000 level course even as a first year student i’ve done it we’ve all done it// we have a lot of nyc students here they all adjust pretty well it’s fine you’ll be fine don’t worry.

yolo

Kagan ‘16

I'm worried that I will get bored at Bennington because it is so small and secluded...what do people do to keep busy and having fun? What type of fun to people have at Bennington? Are there parties? What do people do when they're not studying/getting ready to change the world? — Asked by Anonymous

If you have the time to be bored in college, you’re either really lucky or doing college wrong. For the most part, we’re constantly busy with our coursework, but I think a majority of Bennington students would agree when I say we enjoy our work.

What little free time you have (if you’re not catching up on sleep) will probably be spent trying to make it to as many on-campus events as possible. Just this weekend, we’ve got a concert in one of the houses, a student written and directed play (“Bert on Fire” by Sam Mayer ‘14, dir. Julia Mounsey ‘13,) our bi-annual 24-hour Plays, The Dupont Brothers are performing as part of our March Music Series, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.

I could write an essay for you about this, but I think this video by Erika Lygren ‘16 will tell you a lot more than I can.

<3 Kagan ‘16

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To answer your question…. 

Bennington is famous for its lack of diversity and the dominance of rich and white kids. As a low-income student, am I going to feel left out? Is the lack of money going to hinder me from participating in groups and on-campus activities? — Asked by Anonymous

Well…there’s no such thing as bad publicity!

Before getting into the guts of your question I just want to throw out some quick facts: In terms of financial aid, in 2012-2013, 52% of Bennington students received a grant of $25,000 or more and the average aid package was $36,660 for a year. Bennington has got a big pricetag, but financial aid does a pretty awesome job at making it accessible to more people. Also, in the interest of saving space, in terms of diversity, I’ll point you to some other posts done recently (also, check out this one). I like these ones because I think these both approach the question from different angles.

But that isn’t your question: You won’t feel left out. Everything, including clubs, groups, concerts and activities on campus are free (or covered with tuition, depends on how you look at it). Certainly, you’ll go into town sometimes and buy iced coffee, but you’d be surprised how long you can go on campus without spending money. In the Bennington bubble, I don’t think money is a factor in the social scene at all: I legitimately don’t know which ones of my friends pay full tuition and which don’t.

Normally, I would use this as an excuse to post a song from Rumours,  the Fleetwood Mac album, but I think I’ve already mentioned them on the blog too many times….here’s some Gladys Knight. Don’t believe everything you hear through the grapevine.
-Alan ‘15
 

I'm from a smaller town in Kentucky, and there isn't much to do. I never really liked that because I've found that it gets boring very fast. I'm considering applying to Bennington, but I'm concerned because it's about 45 minutes away from the nearest city and the student body is very small. Does it ever get boring at Bennington, or is there usually stuff to do in the evenings and weekends? — Asked by Anonymous

I was really worried about this too as an applicant. At home, whenever I got my way, my friends and I drove into the city and saw artsy movies or something in that vein: the town I was from didn’t have much to do that I was interested in. Thus, for me, city = fun, things to do entertainment, arts and culture. My number one criteria for a college was actually that it had to be in a city. Bennington broke the city = fun rule for me. We are a community of people that are jazzed about what we do and we want to do it all the time: there are constantly concerts, parties, literature readings, theater pieces, dance performances, lectures…I could go on. I love that when we’re here we hunker down and focus on our education, and that our entertainment becomes an extension of that. The fact that we are secluded allows us to feed off of one another’s energy and get inspired by our peers. And there is always FWT for city time. You’ll only be working thirty hours a week so you’ve got time for all the things you don’t during term.

-Alan ‘15 

Students of color! From what I see in pictures, there's always white students interacting with other white students. Socially, do you non-white students feel left out or excluded? Or do you think your skin color has nothing to with anything and no one could even care less? — Asked by Anonymous

I asked my friend Sara Green to answer this one — she’s an expert.
-Alan ‘15

Hey! It’s really neither. Instead what you have is sort of an awkwardness when questions or comments about race are brought up. My experience has been that people would rather not talk about race- students of color and white students alike. Alas, hope is alive! Recently, there has been a small group of students that is creating spaces to talk about race in academic and student-led spaces. I could talk forever about race at Bennington. Email me if you want to keep talking; there are a lot of intricacies in the conversation. (sgreen@bennington.edu)

Please please please try not to sugar coat your answers but I've been reading the Bennington Free Press online and basically every recent article in some way mentions that Bennington is falling apart whether because of the retiring staff or by the more-of-a-burden FWT. I know it's easy to complain about things because it bonds people or whatever but should these complaints by students pose a valid concern for those of us joining the Bennington community in the fall? What are your takes on it? — Asked by Anonymous

I think students here hold the school to an incredibly high standard and thus have some strong opinions. Personally, I think the language that the school is ‘falling apart’ is melodramatic, but not everyone would agree with me. These posts, I think, speak more to the seriousness of our students than they do to the state of the school. Bennington will always be going through changes because we are always trying to get the school as close as possible to the values that drive it. In a sense, if you join our community, you should be concerned: Bennington students get involved and engage in discussions about these issues. But you shouldn’t be worried.

As for FWT, I would say you are getting a pretty fair portrayal between this blog and some of the articles on the BFP. We all make judgement calls regarding money going into FWT — balancing realism and idealism is a real world lesson, too.

-Alan ‘15

Also, I think it’s important to note that these “burden FWT” articles aren’t reflecting any change in the nature of FWT. Not everyone has 4 amazing FWTs. In fact, I don’t know if anyone has ever had 4 straight FWTs that met every one of his/her expectations. However (and I think that we only realize this after FWT is over), we can always learn something about ourselves and our aspirations during an internship, even if the internship is not great, or even awful.

And I will happily second Alan’s point about “falling apart” being an overstatement. Yes, President Liz Coleman is leaving, but she is staying on for the next 2 years as Director of CAPA, and will definitely continue to have input re: Bennington’s direction well into the future. Apparently, she’s apartment-hunting in North Bennington, but that might just be a rumor. Also, we have no idea what the Office of Student Life will be like without Eva.
As long as Bennington College is full of students, faculty and staff who are invested in nurturing and following the values and ethos of this institution, it will not fall apart.

-Eric ‘13

A link to another current student’s response can be found here.

Is Bennington the kinda school where I would be judged for being a hair-washing, makeup-wearing, floral dress-owning kinda girl? I'm all for gardening and eco-friendlyness and all that jazz, but at a lot of schools I've visited I've just felt like I would be a complete outcast. — Asked by Anonymous

If you’re concerned that we will swarm you on commons lawn and beat you with our birkenstocks until you confess your love of tempeh and renounce showers, I can guarantee there will be no hostility. You may receive a glare from one of our more passionate students as you accidentally throw your soda can in the regular trash, but even that seems unlikely. I will warn you though, that if you come here you will probably take on some of our ‘granola’ habits — it’s just what happens when you immerse yourself in another culture.
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-Alan ‘15

P.S. Also, I feel like girls here wear floral dresses pretty frequently. Are they supposed to be too mainstream for us?

Does Bennington College have a safe environment for gays and lesbians and what are the chances of finding love at the campus — Asked by Anonymous

It is without a doubt a safe environment for gays and lesbians — I would describe sexual orientation here as inconsequential. Don’t get me wrong, it is still an important part of the identities of individuals  but its not something that affects the way students are treated by faculty or peers. The Princeton Review ranked us in their top 20 most LGBT friendly colleges and unigo put us at number one. There was a really great post that I’m going to link you to for the second half of your question here. (Queer@Bennington have since changed their name to Queer*) To add my own voice, the ‘chances of finding love’ are difficult to calculate because there are a lot of variables.The biggest one is the size of the school: we are a small school and our queer community is proportional, which can be frustrating. Like anything, its a combination of what it is and what you make of it.

-Alan ‘15 

So I’m 95% sure this video has been posted on the blog before, but as I was procrastinating in the office just now my internet travels brought me by way of Youtube and I stumbled upon this once again.

Funny how I’m leaving for the end of term on Sunday (and so ready to be done with finals stuff), but this video still manages to make me nostalgic for Spring term already. And snow! Global warming is the worst.

Anyway, this is probably my last blog post until the spring (except maybe I’ll document some FWT hijinks), so until then, enjoy yourselves, wherever you’re at.

-Evan ‘13

Here are some pics from the end of season Halloween Dodgeball tournament (note intern Evan Braun ‘13 and I holding MVP Julie Cushing on our shoulders!)

Check out a collection of photos from the whole night here.

Liam

Is there a place nearby to go horseback riding? — Asked by takeme-totheriot

Sure are! While I don’t believe the college has any official affiliation with any particular stables (yet), here are a few of the nearby places you can go riding.

There are certainly a few students on campus who are riding enthusiasts and, thus, people you could count on/carpool/beg for rides. Additionally, Student Life usually organizes one or two day trips to a nearby stable per semester, which would be a great way to meet fellow horse-folks.

-Evan ‘13

Is housing far from the actual campus and could you possibly give me mini descriptions about the different houses and communities? — Asked by Anonymous

Housing is pretty much right smack in the middle of campus. I would say the furthest walk to a class is about 10 minutes.

As far as kinds of houses go, here are some great descriptions, but as for communities, they’re pretty impossible to describe. We have houses with a range of quiet hours and houses with no quiet hours. Houses where people cook a lot, play a lot of music, or make a lot of fires, but none of those things are at the core of what the community is. The community is the way 35 people choose to live their daily lives together, and that changes every term.

Liam

is ice skating a big deal on campus? — Asked by Anonymous

Not really, so far as I can tell. There is a rink in Manchester if you’ve got the itch to tear it up, and I’m sure you could find a few other students interested in going with you. I wouldn’t say ice skating is, like, a big factor in the Bennington social scene or anything like that, though.

-Evan ‘13