Amherst College is an Awesome College
Issue   |   Tue, 07/05/2011 - 21:58

So, everyone, today’s issue is the last Student of the year — which, by my calculation, means that this will be my last student life column. Though I’ve been trying for much of this senior year to keep the idea of graduation out of mind and just live in the moment, the concept of having to leave this glorious place that we call Amherst is becoming more palpable as we have more of these senior activities — Senior Ball, Senior Speakoff, Senior Luncheon, Senior Dinner, Senior Yearbook Photos and the annual Seniors and Senior Citizens Tri-County Break-dancing Competition.

This whole graduating thing is very scary for me. I tried to reapply for the class of 2015, but Admissions wasn’t having it. I was thinking about applying to be President Marx’s successor, but apparently you need a resumé to apply for jobs, so I nixed that idea. So here we are: only a few weeks left to enjoy my ever-increasingly wonderful time at the ’Herst.

I wanted to take this last-issue opportunity to compile a list of Amherst-y things that I love: a series of things that a) could only be true at Amherst, b) make this place the best place in the world to go to college, and c) ring true with your own unique Amherst experiences. Let’s call it my “Why It’s Great to be an Amherst Student, 2011” list.

1. Relaxed campus environment: honestly, there’s not much pressure here. Everyone gets stressed from time to time, but we have understanding professors, a non-competitive academic environment, and no real social pressures. Everyone is free to do what he/she wants, and will get respect for doing so. This may not be something you think about, because we take for granted the relaxed nature of Amherst — but none of the high pressure/high stress atmosphere often associated with other colleges pervades our “bubble.”

2. Great town, great Motown Benny: not only do we have an excellent little college town within a few hundred feet of the frosh quad, but we also have some hilarious locals. Take Motown Benny (aka bucket-man) for instance. My man.

3. Sweet old frat houses — without the frats: we’re lucky to have six fantastic old mansions that date to the early 1900s, perfect for community living and ideal for parties. These yet-to-be-renovated houses retain their original character and comfort. Take Marsh, for example: with the nicest ballroom on campus, the old house on the Hill can host a variety of social events ranging from “Coffee Haus” to old-fashioned raging houseparty (as we saw this past weekend). And since we no longer have frats, anyone can attend any party — without worrying about “not getting in.” There’s no such thing as an exclusive party at Amherst … which is a great thing.

4. Life in the Socials: sure, they’re worn down and a little dirty — but what’s better than suite-style living? Given an empty living room, the residents of any social can creatively decide how their space will look and how it will be used, down to the very last detail. Take a walk around the socials and see how many different types of rooms you’ll encounter. It’s diversity in practice.

5. Only one dining hall: people complain about Val all the time, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Frank’s Red Hot Cod Fin Sandwich. But it is improving, and more importantly, Val often acts the social engine of campus. Because we only have one place to eat, we’re forced to run into each other, talk to each other, sit with each other. No matter what you do at Amherst, you still go to Val.

6. A-Level in the library, one of the most sociable spots on campus: A-level is sooo Amherst.

7. Heated rivalry with Williams: college rivalries always spice up the athletic culture, but ours is unique. Our rivalry started because professors and students literally left Williams (because Williams is horrible, obviously) and came to Amherst to start a new college. Want to know the best way to start a rivalry? Run away and start a better school.

8. Campus Police that understand us: we students have a really good relationship with the Campus Po, despite what the Crime Log might lead you to believe. There’s no hostility — just leniency and understanding. I remember this one time sophomore year, a friend of mine (for anonymity let’s call him Mike Smith) decided one Saturday evening to start launching those “don’t go in this grassy area” poles into the Seelye lawn … not noticing that Officer Sullivan was about six feet away when the aerial assault began. She calmly walked over, asked Mike what in the name of Tony Marx he was doing, and then picked up the poles and told us to be on our way. She and the other policemen realize that we work hard but also like to have our fun, and that Mike wasn’t being malicious — just kinda stupid.

9. Any weather above 55 degrees is beach weather: we have to deal with a lot of winter here in New England (and that Groundhog is a liar and a cheat), so whenever it gets above slightly-too-cold outside, it’s time to get tanning — whether at Pond Beach, Merrill Beach, Val Beach or otherwise — and make the most of the sunlight that we can find. Suns out, guns out, baby.

10. Deep down, everyone here is pretty cool: as much as the place contributes to our being “Amherst,” the people are what make our experience. And the people here are not just diverse in terms of background and upbringing, but diverse in terms of opinions, ideas and aspirations. Talk to some people you don’t know — you’ll soon realize that you share much more in common than you might think. Get past the grouping of people into categories (“oh, he’s a lax bro,” “she plays the violin and is therefore weird,” “that guy only eats waffles at Val”) and discover how much more cohesive our community can be.

This is a student life column, and based on my experience as a student here, I can tell you something you already know: Amherst is awesome. Life here couldn’t be much better. To those of you who have infinitely more time remaining here than I do, I’ll give this as a little closing advice: take advantage of your time here. Enjoy even the most boring of lectures. Recognize how lucky we are to be here for four years.

Try new things, join a club, take a weird class, be really collegiate, put yourself out there and see what you’ll find. Most importantly, get to know lots of new people — students, professors, staff or otherwise — and become close with the ones that you do know. And, whenever you can, if given the choice between doing something new and sticking to your usual routine, or between having fun and finishing up that poly-sci reading, choose fun. You can always skim that reading later — I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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