Posted by Taylor Dafoe
We talk about it all the time - the enigmatic, esoteric and all-encompassing "Skidmore culture." It's everywhere: it's the hipsters, the bros, the smokers, the artists. It's you.
The Skidmore culture is an abstract thing that you can't quite articulate when describing your school to someone else. It's a culture that you can't understand unless you're a part of it. It's what makes us who we are. Discussion of the college culture has, however, in the light of recent events, flared up into a heated debate that's calling on everyone to question whether or not it's a good thing.
Some pride themselves on the uniqueness of our reputation, on the novelty that is the Skidmore student. And, of course, there isn't anything wrong with this; school pride only enhances the college experience that we work so hard to protect. But school pride isn't the issue here; the real issue, going further than our style and our students, is the questionability of the world in which that pride is grounded.
This world, so ubiquitous and self-perpetuating that we hardly notice it anymore, is becoming a problem. And frankly, it's about time we talked about it.
Recently, the Skidmore culture discussion has surfaced in the arguments surrounding the excessive drinking and partying dominating headlines on campus. This is undoubtedly part of the problem of our incomparable culture, yes, but that's not where it begins, and it's certainly not where it ends either.
The scope of our college culture extends to almost every facet of our campus lives. Our notorious concentration on what we wear and what we look like, the select music we listen to and pretend to be so passionate about, what we eat, what we do on weekends, the way we talk and act and even think – it's all a product of the culture.
However, the idea here is not our parties or our North Face jackets. The fact that we're so easily influenced by both those around us, and the larger group itself, and that we're viewed not as a collection of distinct and diverse individuals united by the college experience, but as a group formed by the culture as a whole - this is what we should be talking about. It says a lot about the lifeblood of our school.
It's the reason we're drinking too much on weekends, pre-gaming in dorm rooms and ending up in hospitals; it's why we have bias incidents so often, and have issues of vandalism week after week. Of course the college doesn't support such things, but we as the Skidmore collective are nurturing a culture that spawns these kinds of effects.
Most would agree that the Skidmore culture is a wonderful thing – that's why we're here. But sometimes our school acts like Skidmore for the sake of acting like Skidmore. We're playing with the risk of going overboard, drowning not in alcohol, weed and stifling homogeneity, but in our self-involved idealism that promotes those things.
For all the talk about the newfound independence that college provides students, it's funny how people are so readily willing to overlook it, to use and abuse it carelessly - to exploit it rather than use it to forge a personal path. For once, think about what really you makes you a Skidmore student. You're just as much a part of the culture as any other person here; you have just as much say about what goes on.
So it's fine if you consider yourself a hipster, bro, smoker, artist or anything else under the ever-expanding Skidmore umbrella, just do it for the right reasons.
Taylor Dafoe is an undecided sophomore from Cheyenne, Wyo.