Posted by Addison Bennett, SGA VP for Club Affairs
Note: The opinions expressed in the following letter do not reflect those of SGA but just the select officials involved.
As this semester's Humans Versus Zombies game approaches, we find it appropriate to express our support of this club and their campus event.
We fully support co-curricular life on this campus. As students, we have surely come here to study and enjoy our academic pursuits, but we have also come to Skidmore to participate, to engage our college community, and to positively contribute to this campus' climate. Skidmore is a residential college, meaning that a large number of students live on campus, signifying the inevitable fusion of academics with social life. Engagement and participation can take many forms, and these are not limited to the classroom. To think otherwise would be to ignore the many benefits of the college experience that do not rely on scholarship. While HvZ does not contribute directly to a student's academic pursuits, the game has many other merits. The most important of them is its ability to provide a forum for so many students to enjoy a game together. Ultimately, the goal of any club or event, including HvZ, is to foster the kind of environment we all want to live and partake in. Our campus is host to a multitude of clubs, alliances, and groups that range from being academic to cultural to performance to activist. These are available to us to grow individually, socially, and academically. We, as students, are able to thrive best when we feel safe and inclusive within our campus community and the only way to do this is to create those niches for people to belong to. We understand that not everyone feels the same about all the groups our campus has to offer but we must all respect others' decisions to partake in events and activities that best suit our needs.
HvZ has quickly become a tradition on this campus. Having recently become a chartered club under the auspices of SGA, HvZ clearly already has the support of this student body and its government. The game has a strong following of students, especially during the larger and longer campus-wide games. The game has strict regulations, one of them clearly stipulating that the game should never take place inside any buildings. These regulations serve to limit the game to the venues where it is appropriate to be held, outside and away from the classroom, the library, the dorms, Case Center, and other buildings where our scholarly pursuits take place. As any other ongoing campus activity, it may permeate conversations, especially in an academic setting. However, it most likely does not dominate classroom discussions, unless it pertains to the class (such as the American Studies course on Post-Apocalyptic Film and Literature). Professors who do not want the game to enter their classroom have every right to state their wish explicitly, and their students have the responsibility to listen. Classroom etiquette is an integral part of learning in the classroom. We must all respect each other. A co-curricular game should not interfere with the classroom experience. Outside the classroom, however, we students must be free to budget our own time, to play games if we want to, and to enjoy what little time we have on this campus.
Furthermore, the game is also intended only to include those who are actively participating. While others may view this game in the periphery of their campus experience, only those playing are actually engrossed in the game. Those who do not want to be involved do not need to be. It is as simple as that.
While the game's overlap with the October study day is no longer a conflict since the dates have been changed to early November, the policy on study days is an important issue to address. The SGA plans to fully review the policy on study days in the very near future, and this review will include defining what the purpose of this day is, and who has the authority to plan and approve events on that day. Our current interpretation is this: the October study day gives students an opportunity to budget their time as they see fit, by studying all day if they wish, or by choosing to participate in events with their peers if they so desire.
Other objections raised to the game - namely, the assertion that HvZ turns the campus into a simulated war zone - are valid, but we believe they are also exaggerated. These are conversations we should all have as a campus community. It falls on all of us to look critically at the ways we choose to spend our free time. We look forward to more conversation on this issue.
Ideally, a day off from classes - which, not coincidentally, falls after most professors have given midterms-would include a healthy mix of curricular and co-curricular activity. As of now, many events are not permitted to occur on this day, however this policy is not conducive to fostering a positive atmosphere. College students are not children; we do not need to be told when we must study and when we may play.