Questions about Colgate University:

I have recently been accepted to Colgate and it is currently my top choice. I have a few questions before I decide to enroll:

  1. I do not plan on rushing into a Sorority and I do not play any sports. Will I feel left out?

  2. Someone told me that the male students are chauvinistic. Is this true?

  3. How would you describe the students? I read on websites like Niche that a lot of the students are snobby & arrogant. Is this true or are most students nice & inclusive?

  4. What do you think about the safety on campus (especially for girls)?

Thank you in advance!!

Hi Abby,

My daughter is considering whether to apply to Colgate and we have the EXACT same impressions and questions. I hope somebody answers you.

@abby321 Did you end up choosing Colgate or did you enroll somewhere else? I am sorry I missed your post back in April because I could have given you some insight!

I would still love to hear your insight.

Without getting into specifics, I will start by saying that many students absolutely LOVE it there. The administration is working to increase diversity by adjusting financial aid policies and working with Questbridge but these changes are 1-2 years old and the composition has not changed very much so the students skew extremely rich and extremely white. Other groups of students tend to self-segregate. There is a student group working to abolish Greek life.

To directly answer the questions above:
My D has no interest in Greek life and has a small group of like minded friends but during freshman orientation, her dorm floor was asked who was planning on rushing as a sophomore and easily 80% raised their hand. Some students end up changing their mind as they get into other activities as a first year.

She constantly mentions being talked down to by male students and chauvinism does exist.

Sexual assault was a BIG thing this year. There are a couple of “accused serial offenders” who seem to evade punishment despite several nearly identical reports. A couple of female students were told that Colgate might not be the place for them if they insisted on pushing for an investigation because they couldn’t risk damaging reputations so they ended up transferring. Staff members from the sexual assault support center were let go for “budgetary” reasons in the middle of the year but the positions were posted again in May. There were demonstrations but the administration seems very tone deaf on this issue. If you google survivors at Colgate, there is an Instagram of first hand anonymous accounts.

I can’t compare these issues to any other school and this is all based on the experience of my D and her friends/acquaintances as well as articles written in the school newspaper, which can also be found online.

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I don’t want to dismiss this concern but it is a concern on all campuses. We know quite a few freshmen women at LACs as well at bigger schools and sexual assault is discussed quite a bit. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s any different that it was when I was in college in the 80s. It’s a problem - period. Colleges struggle with how to handle it.

When we were visiting Wake Forest, there were signs all over campus for a group that meets to discuss sexual assault and works to find better answers to the problem. Our son at Bowdoin says his women friends also talk about it a decent amount.

I’m definitely not looking the other way and believe your Colgate comment but I do think this is more of a national issue than a school one. I looked through the Colgate Instagram page for the group you mentioned and there are a variety of posts there. Some women post about being assaulted when they visited friends at other college campuses. Some posted about women on women sexual assault. Women are much more vocal about these issues now which is a good thing of course.

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The purpose of my information was not to call attention to the fact that sexual assault happens on college campuses. I was pointing out the shortcoming in the administrative response, which is even more troubling. I am aware of other schools with Share Your Story groups and support groups but I have not heard of another school telling victims that are seeking justice, or want an investigation, that they might need to find another college. The original question was about safety but the underlying issue is how violations are addressed. You hope nothing happens and, deep down, you understand the inherent risks but you TRUST that the administration has your back. The feeling of many is that this is not the case and that just isn’t right, IMO.

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Thanks. That’s good info to have.

I will say, though, that most campuses are guilty of all that is charged in this piece. It’s an ongoing conversation about the complexities of the situation and the response of colleges.

One Instagram post is from a student who left campus for a night with a male student she admits she hardly knew and then was assaulted that night. This was during Covid and she wasn’t even supposed to leave campus. I do not blame women but some of those stories are complicated.

Of course Haven should be taking care of anyone who needs support.

Thanks to you both for the exchange. On “complexities” and the administrative response, does Colgate offer single-sex dormitories or other measures to make it less normal for overnight guests to be in student housing? For example, some response to binge drinking?

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I don’t believe there are any single sex dorms at Colgate.

No single sex dorms, not really single sex floors in co-ed buildings, either. My D was able to pick roommates for her suite this year and one of her close friends is a gay male, and he has a single in the suite. He was being bullied on his floor last year so I think it is great that students can make housing groups with those they trust and genuinely care about regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The host of an overnight guest needs the permission of roommates prior to the guest’s arrival.

I would say the response to underage drinking on campus is minimal. There were parties in the woods last fall that violated Covid rules and campus safety basically drove a golf cart to the path and used a bullhorn to tell students they hoped they were wearing masks. Unless students become so ill that they need medical attention (which happens frequently), it doesn’t seem to be addressed.

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@helpingmom40: Very important issues (bullying/non-acceptance & excessive binge drinking) raised in your post. Thank you for sharing !

I think it was like this at a lot of colleges. Bowdoin definitely looked the other way at most parties that weren’t officially allowed last spring. Unless they were way too big and loud, campus security stopped by and told kids to put their masks on. It was a hard line to walk last year.

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Thanks :blush: I feel we’re in a tough spot. Tons of folks love it there! DD, well all of us actually, fell in love with the school. We made several visits before and during the application cycle (I think 4 or 5…) and visited about 2 dozen others, most more than once. Now, I feel like we are in Oz - blinded by the beauty of the veneer (and the sales pitches) and appalled at what goes on behind the curtain. Luckily, she has managed to find a group of friends who share her experiences and outlook. They have vowed to stick it out together.

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D is a community leader at one of the commons up the hill. She was so stressed out this past year as she felt like the school gave them added responsibility of “policing” the students during the pandemic. We had to to talk to her several times during the fall semester to adjust her expectations as on top of the school being known to party a lot, there’s that added pressure to do more in terms of dealing with students not in health compliance.

Overall, D loves it there! She found students who are like minded and became her friends. I hope things will be a bit better this fall semester.

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