Senior week activities scatter graduating class to the winds

As exam time rolls around atWilliams, all students feel the pain of tight deadlines, uncontrollable anxiety and over-caffeination. Only a select few escape the wrath of the scheduling monster each May, while the masses are left to rot in Schow for the umpteenth unhealthy night. Finals misery is usually compounded by the fact that most other colleges and universities in the observable universe have long finished the hellish week – getting phone calls from out-of-town friends asking “when you’re coming home” tends to stimulate the medulla oblongata in non-constructive ways.

And when the tribulations come to an end? A swift return to summer internships and the working grind is the best most of us can hope for. Those lucky enough to work during commencement or in training of some sort mill about, awaiting the glorious return of the seniors.

Ah, the seniors. The exception to the rule of post-exam letdowns, soon-to-be graduates at Williams have always had a great deal to look forward to as their academic careers come to a close. No, not the real world (shudder). Rather, the College tradition of traveling during the dead week between finals and Senior week has always put a delectable carrot of opportunity in front of work-weary Ephs and accompanying well-wishers; the type of lure that can make reading period and the subsequent tests drag on for an eternity.

At the close, however, tradition dictates that most interested parties travel to points south – specifically, the warmer clime of Hilton Head Island, S.C. A considerable portion of the graduating class tends to make the annual pilgrimage, and this year seems to be no exception – more than 150 individuals are already confirmed for the week. Rather than go the hotel route, seniors generally opt to rent out a group of the more than 7,000 private residences and villas available on the tourist island.

The locale is as scenic as you could ask for. No more than 12 miles by five, the resort community is the veritable gem of the south Atlantic coastal region. Dozens of golf courses, more than 300 tennis courts and innumerable bike paths are situated on the bluffs. Maritime forests line the beaches, and water sports abound.

Students have certainly been known to take advantage of these amenities. But the true appeal of Hilton Head, according to future visitors, is the opportunity it allows for a class to come together in a setting outside of college.

“We want to be completely carefree and intoxicated by joy,” said Tom Cubeta ’03, who plans to rent a house with 11 other gentlemen in slightly less than two weeks’ time. “To get out of this rainy weather and onto the beach and get drunk, while sharing that moment with our entire class. I want to go now.”

The saying “Go west, young man” was apparently taken to heart by a different group of seniors – the residents of Sewall house decided to forgo the pleasures of Carolina for the glamour, glitz and possible gold of Las Vegas. The group will pass their time in the MGM Grand hotel on the famous boulevard of dreams in Las Vegas.

“Nothing could highlight the end of my Williams career better than the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip,” Pete Walke ’03 said.

Five days and four nights in Vice City would seem to provide the group of self-professed “gambling addicts” a chance to “come back flat broke.” A desire to go somewhere off the beaten path was also cited as one of the factors contributing to their Nevada adventure. All denied, however, that the presence of pop star Yanni in the Grand Garden Arena on May 25 factored into their decision-making process.

Not all senior travelers feel the need to stray far from home, though. All but two members of Poker Flats B, C and D will set off on May 24 for scenic Brewster, Mass., a scant 4-hour drive from Williamstown proper. The family residences of Michael King ’03 will house the merry-makers.

Party members cited cost as a major part of the decision, as all will stay for free and will pay next to nothing in transportation costs. The group admitted that the water was likely to be considerably warmer farther down the Atlantic coast, but expressed doubt that they would be “sober enough to notice.”

“I think the whole point of dead week travel off-campus is to hang out with one’s friends as a group,” King said. “Specifically, not to travel en masse as a campus somewhere else and run into people on the street as though we were still crossing Route. 2. Senior Week proper is constructed for all-senior bonding. Dead week ought ideally to be something different, somewhere different.”

Regardless of location, all are practically guaranteed a good time when exams’ end rolls around. Weather.com’s national forecast looks highly acceptable at the moment – with any luck, even the New England crew will be able to wet their beak in the ocean of senior bonding.

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