right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Colby = the fratty school without real frats?

spurs43calispurs43cali 1 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
edited April 22 in Colby College
*SEEKING: advice, opinions, observations about Colby’s social life and campus culture*

I am a senior in high school who was recently accepted to Colby RD along with two other liberal arts colleges (Hamilton and Lafayette). Since getting in, Colby has been my top choice. I visited campus twice, and after both trips I left with really good impressions about the friendliness and outdoorsy/active nature of the students, the top-tier environmental studies program and overall academics, the beautiful and expansive campus, the location in Maine, and the seemingly close-knit atmosphere of the community. I’m very fortunate to be accepted to such an incredible school, and I am still excited about possibly attending.

However, I’ve developed some concerns about the non-academic elements of Colby after having recently had a conversation with a friend who is a current freshman. During a long and really informative phone call, she shared many of her gripes with the social climate at Colby. Her conception of the social dynamics at Colby was something along the lines of this: a significant part of the population is composed of WASPy/wealthy student-athletes who tend to drink heavily/party often, act in very cliquey ways, and join underground Greek organizations off of campus. She then mentioned a specific incident that occurred at Colby this past year, in which a party with a racist/offensive message was thrown by a group students who are allegedly in one of these underground fraternities. She confessed how shocked and disappointed she was and how she felt misled about the general campus dynamics and student body atmosphere at Colby. While she’s been able to find a solid group of friends who are down-to-earth, socially conscious, outdoorsy, and not wildly affluent, she kept talking about how the demographic at Colby is deeply divided between students like her friends and wealthy, “white Northeast prep-school party types” who claim membership to underground fraternities. Apparently, this divide has only worsened as campus administration and fellow students have tried to combat it.

I am taking her observations with a LARGE grain of salt because it is grossly generalized, relatively pointed, and as a result not very fair; nonetheless, this description left me with conflicting perceptions of Colby—specifically regarding the understanding that Colby doesn’t have [official] Greek life. Growing up in an admittedly affluent household in CT and having two older brothers who were members of fraternities during their college years (one at Hobart and another at W&L) and didn’t look back fondly on their experiences, I definitely have an idea of how stifling and frankly problematic the sort of wealthy, conservative lifestyle found in many fraternities can be (of course these facts have become more and more obvious as frats start to die off on many campuses across the country). Again, one of the reasons Colby was so appealing right from the get-go was the fact that it, along with other NESCACs that I considered, abolished fraternities and sororities long ago. And while I recognize that Colby has traditionally been one of the more preppy, old-money affluent, and homogenous LACs (I somewhat got this sense during my first visit, as well as from friends describing the school), my second visit led me to feel optimistic that this stereotype has faded to a degree. At this point, though, I am struggling to gauge whether or not the campus culture/student vibe is truly right for me (especially having heard such starkly different perceptions from a current student, perceptions that seem to be shared and validated by others). I’d really value any further insights/opinions, either from current students, alums, or parents, about the campus culture or general social life at Colby. What do you make of these portrayals? Is actual change being made to rectify the issue of underground fraternities and any associated behaviors? In your view, how grave or even existent are these problems? Is Colby unique in this situation, or are other LACs/colleges without Greek life enduring similar challenges (i.e. Hamilton or others)? (Sorry for the rambling post, and thanks in advance for the responses.)

*I should probably mention that I take no issue with political conservatism; though I am more of a progressive, I would definitely appreciate being in an academic environment with a breadth of ideological backgrounds. When I describe frats as conservative, I am referring to the ways by which frats often promote extremely traditional and often harmful (i.e. hypermasculine, obnoxiously wealthy, sexist/racist/homophobic/etc.) behaviors. This is by no means a characterization of all frats, and I know not to generalize such a massive institution in that manner. Rather, I am speaking from knowledge I’ve received from family members, friends, social media, etc., as well as my personal inclinations about Greek life.
edited April 22
23 replies
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: Colby = the fratty school without real frats?

  • merc81merc81 10359 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For an extended perspective on Colby's social atmosphere, search Colby Life Documentary.
    · Reply · Share
  • PublisherPublisher 8082 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @spurs43cali: If you have two brothers who have attended elite LACs ( W&L and Hobart) were fraternity members and do not have fond memories, why are you only considering LACs ?

    If you watch the 44 minute Colby Life Documentary mentioned in the post above, it will confirm the rumors & turn your attention elsewhere.

    Hamilton & Lafayette, your other two options, offer better weather & less isolation.
    · Reply · Share
  • spurs43calispurs43cali 1 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @Publisher I appreciate the reply. To answer your question, I am only considering LACs because I am pretty certain a small school would best allow me to thrive academically and socially; having visited 14 schools in total (6 of which were LACs), I have the gut feeling that a larger university would be too vast and overwhelming. And due to my brothers' experiences, I am more focused on schools that [officially] do not have a Greek system in place (which includes Colby, and excludes Hamilton/Laf). I am hoping to pick a college that maintains a tight-knight community vibe but isn't too insular or conservative (I'm also trying to stay within the Northeast due to proximity to home). With respect to the Colby Life Documentary, I have seen it a couple of times actually. Although you probably are aware, it might be worth noting that the film is several years old, and considering all of the apparent changes the college is undergoing, I question how salient the premises of the documentary are today. This is largely why I am interested in hearing perspectives from current students and/or alums who have more up-to-date insight on Colby. I will definitely consider Laf and Hamilton more carefully though, in light of this information. Thank you again for the input.
    · Reply · Share
  • colfac92colfac92 374 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited April 23
    My son is a junior, and he did tell me there was a lot of drama on campus for a period of time this year around the underground frats and associated incidents of bias. But this was not the defining element of the year for him (a room-mate issue was a bigger problem for him personally and in his group of friends). One source that might be worth perusing is the Colby Echo student newspaper:

    What I've observed, vicariously, is that Colby is indeed "... a college that maintains a tight-knight community vibe but isn't too insular or conservative."

    More generally, I think the kinds of issues you raise are endemic to many if not most colleges, and especially colleges that are striving to achieve more diversity in their community as so many rightly are. Young adults, living independently of their families for perhaps the first time, trying to figure out how to relate to different people, people from backgrounds that they may not have previously had much exposure to, and not always getting it right. I think this is happening on college campuses pretty much everywhere.

    Good Luck in your decision-making.
    edited April 23
    Post edited by Erin's Dad on
    · Reply · Share
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5729 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I PM ed you.
    · Reply · Share
  • doschicosdoschicos 21146 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Hamilton - better weather and less isolation? Clinton NY gets more snowfall than Lewiston ME an, IMO, Lewiston is much less isolated. It's the second largest city in ME with 3K people and is a 40 minute drive to Portland. Access to the ocean and to great skiing.


    Honestly, unless you have some reason to think your friend was lying or exaggerating in her stories, I'd trust her read on the culture and what she has witnessed. There is often behavior that current students are aware of that you won't hear from the admin (of course) or the many parents who frequent CC.
    · Reply · Share
  • merc81merc81 10359 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Publisher might like snow but be hesitant about the cold. In a comparison between Waterville and Clinton, Clinton seems to be about 6 degrees warmer on January mornings.

    https://www.bestplaces.net/climate/city/maine/waterville

    https://www.bestplaces.net/climate/zip-code/new_york/clinton/13323
    · Reply · Share
  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2291 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It strikes me that Hamilton might be more to your liking. Even though there are legitimate frats there, the overall vibe seems less 'fratty' and 'country club affluent' there as compared to Colby.

    Re: colby...It does seem the current admin is trying to address and even dissolve those underground organizations. There have been a number of articles over the last year by Colby's student newspaper, the Colby Echo. Google 'Colby echo underground frats' and those articles will come up.
    · Reply · Share
  • Cane328Cane328 1 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I am a freshman at Colby right now and a big part of why I decided to come here is because it doesn’t have frats.  However, underground frats do exist at Colby. The administration is currently performing an investigation into then, but whether or not that will lead to anything is yet to be seen. They are a largely talked about topic on campus, but very few people are actually in them and most Colby students would like to see them eliminated due to their toxic culture. The feeling among my friend group is that the frats have not negatively impacted our social life and they are no way a defining feature of Colby.  It is definitely possible exist here without interacting with them at all.  I guess my point is that although underground frats exist here at Colby, they are not a reflection of the student body as a whole.  Most students would be happy to see the administration do something to end their existence.
    · Reply · Share
  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1729 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 28
    Given your stereotypes about Greek, white, northeast, wealth, you didn't cast a very wide net for college choices.

    You seem to have your mind made up what all of the above mentioned groups are about. Perhaps you would be better served at other institutions.

    Should you choose to go to Colby it will be what you make it. I tell my own children to ignore what they don't like, engage in what they do, and to bloom where they are planted.
    edited April 28
    · Reply · Share
  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3451 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 28
    @spurs43cali Are there any other schools still in play? Based on what I have read on CC (I know these schools only through reputation), these three seem more similar than they are different. Do you have a specific major or majors in mind?
    edited April 28
    · Reply · Share
  • merc81merc81 10359 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Regarding your choices, I'd say that Hamilton may offer you the most social options because of its spatial aspects. With three residential neighborhoods and five places to eat lunch, you can choose an essentially fluid experience based on where you choose to live and dine.
    · Reply · Share
  • LindagafLindagaf 9245 replies497 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Those are three great choices. Do you have friends at the other two colleges who could give you their perspective? Frankly, all three of those schools will have monied white kids, cliques, and other unsavory aspects that you seem to want to avoid. And so will many top private LACs. But the difference is that Colby is your top choice. All of those colleges have plenty of happy students who thrive, despite whatever negatives there might be. Those schools all have high retention rates. Go to Colby and you will find your people.
    · Reply · Share
  • apple23apple23 496 replies14 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited April 28
    With access to nearby suburban shopping areas and a cinema, Hamilton does not appear to be isolated as suggested above. And, Colby is in Waterville, not Lewiston as indicated in post #6. Waterville is much more rural and isolated than Lewiston.

    https://www.hamilton.edu/campuslife/transportation/the-jitney
    edited April 28
    · Reply · Share
  • PublisherPublisher 8082 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 28
    To be blunt: Colby has a school culture heavily focused on alcohol. Most likely due to the isolation, cold weather & small size of the student body.

    While also found at the other two options, less isolation suggests that there are more opportunities for alternative types of entertainment.
    edited April 28
    · Reply · Share
  • merc81merc81 10359 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 28
    But the difference is that Colby is your top choice.

    The OP's top choice will be the college she selects by May 1st.
    edited April 28
    · Reply · Share
  • lostaccountlostaccount 5330 replies90 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 28
    Hamilton is an amazing school where the vibe described by the OP won't be common.
    edited April 28
    · Reply · Share
  • 4junior4junior 244 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    While Hamilton has greek life it’s not as fratty as Colby, and you will also find a wider range of social groups and viewpoints there. While Colby is trying to change it is still a very homogeneous population- and a difficult climate for those who color outside the lines. I think you should revisit Hamilton before crossing it off your list due to frats.
    · Reply · Share
  • colfac92colfac92 374 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited April 29
    I really don't think Waterville, Maine, is all that isolated. It has two cinemas, several big-box retailers, several new car dealerships, etc... It is located right on a major interstate highway (with multiple exits, no less), and only about 20 minutes from the Maine state capital.
    edited April 29
    · Reply · Share
  • DoubleBassDadDoubleBassDad 7 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Why can't we let people socialize with whomever they like. Jerks will be jerks regardless of wether they join a fraternity.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity