It was the last Friday of fall semester. After our customary Shabbat dinner, we were deciding whether we wanted to stay in and study or take advantage of our last night of relative free time before exams. Like many students at the College, we consulted the social calendar. Among all of the events listed, we just could not pin down a trajectory, so we decided to do everything. Yes, everything.
As it was already 8 p.m., we had missed the Far Ephs concert and the Planetarium show. So we raced over to the hockey rink to catch the last few minutes of the game, making a quick pit stop in the weight room on our way over. Note: the weight room was not on the social calendar, and there was really no reason to stop there other than out of curiosity as to what was happening at the gym at 8 p.m. on a Friday night. We then hurried to the NBC/Sankofa show to catch a fiery version of “Partition,” but we could only stay a few minutes in order to make it to the Wind Ensemble concert. Unfortunately, we arrived in the middle of a song so the doors were closed. We appreciated the music from the foyer, but we had to leave before the doors reopened to make it to Williams After Dark and the Accidentals show.
By the time we had stopped by both shows, the snow was already coming down heavily. Nonetheless we persevered in our quest, trudging down to Mission Park for Get Baked, where we were especially impressed by the Monet-inspired cake decorations. We then continued down to Poker Flats for the divestment bonfire to find an enthusiastic crowd chanting and swaying around the warm flames. Cold and wet but with much yet to accomplish, we took a break in Sawyer just for good measure on the way to Griffin, where we were shocked and sad to be turned away from the overflowing Ephlats concert. We turned our disappointment into resolve with a trek across campus to Bronfman auditorium for a screening of the women’s soccer final four match. After cheering on our team through the first half, we continued on to the First Fridays Darlingside concert in Greylock. The rest of the night consisted of doing things students at the College typically do: eating nachos from ’82 Grill, checking mailboxes and heading to bed at midnight.
In total, we attempted to attend 10 events on the calendar and added an additional four to round out a Williamstown night. But did the social calendar live up to its name? Was it actually social? What did we learn from such a packed evening?
Before our adventure that fated Friday night, we had never given a second thought to the name of the social calendar. But through our experience, we found that the social calendar was really not all that social. Most of the events involved merely watching things happen. At the sports game, dance show, and concerts, we ended up standing with each other, and the atmospheres were really not conducive to turning to our neighbors to say “Hi.” Granted, because of our lofty ambitions, we could only stay at each event for a few minutes. Yet if you only went to a few of these events for your Friday night, you would leave with a head filled with beautiful music or swimming with dance routines but virtually no memories with yourself as the protagonist.
Second, we found that many events seemed insular. For example, the divestment bonfire. While the hearty group was welcoming, most there were already involved in the movement. A student who likes bonfires but is not in the divestment group would probably not attend. Had we not known a few people in the group or were not buoyed by the excitement of our night, we might have felt a bit estranged. Even at Get Baked, we felt like we did not belong. Though we came before most of the delicacies were ready, the bakers were all intensely absorbed in their work. They probably did not want us to eat all of the snacks before they were ready, but regardless, we left quickly.
Despite these critiques, both of us had a great night. We were able to avoid the Williams Walkabout (aimless wandering from party to party) that tends to breed a never-ending search for something better. Instead, we used the social calendar to create a night solely for our own amusement, without any expectations that became a wonderfully ridiculous and memorable adventure. And with just one more semester left on campus, we look forward to many more extemporaneous social forays during the Williamstown weekends ahead.