By Olivia Libowitz
Elm Staff Writer
I chose to go to Washington College because it felt like a community. It’s made up of a close-knit student body and a student-to-professor ratio that makes it hard to pass someone around campus you don’t at least know by face. WC has small quirky features, like a printing press and a boathouse. It has fun events that the whole school would turn out to, as well as alumni. One of the most endearing aspects of the community was all the traditions, which I appreciated while applying. We have War on the Shore, we have Birthday Ball and, one of my favorites—we have the Mount Vernon visit.
For years WC has celebrated the heritage of our school by starting off students’ four years here by crowding them into a bus with the rest of the first-years and sending them down to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic estate. There, they get to listen to a Washington Impersonator speak about integrity and honor, and then they get to stroll the grounds and tour the home. Some freshmen inevitably skip it each year, but many go, and most have a good time.
The best part of the tradition is the promise that four years later, several days before graduation, they’ll put you in a bus full of seniors, and send you back to Mount Vernon, where you’ll get to have a champagne toast and celebrate completing College.
Is this tradition a little cheesy? Yes. Is its unapologetic cheesiness part of its appeal? Absolutely. Recently it has come to light that our school may be removing this tradition from its repertoire. I reached out to the Student Events Board for comment, but haven’t heard back as of press time on Monday. On our school website’s “Traditions” page, it talks about the Mount Vernon trip. There is a hyperlink where it says, “Four years later, graduating seniors return to Mount Vernon to mark the successful completion of their degrees…” When you click on that hyperlink, it takes you to a now broken page. If nothing else, this seems like an effort to quietly phase out the second half of this tradition.
To this I ask: why chip away at the little things that make our college what it is? WC has personality. It has character. This comes from the small parts of our school that exist not because of the need for us to be a good college, but because WC is proud of its history and its students. What happens if we get rid of the Mount Vernon trip? Or if we stop doing Birthday Ball? So many students love WC for its attention to student life and the events they set up to cater to that.
At the very least, my year of students has been expecting this trip. We were promised this four years ago. This may just be my history major talking, but I’ve been looking forward to that trip. It feels cyclical. It feels like ending something important. I was looking forward to standing in a place I did four years ago with new friends and getting that nostalgia. If nothing else, continue the tradition with the students who started it, before removing it entirely.
WC is proud of its traditions, and it should be. As long as there are students who still love that about WC, those traditions are worth fighting to keep going. It’s part of what makes this school the great place that it is.