Sunday, January 23, 2005

What is Mount Holyoke College?

Someone asked me the other day about what I thought about Mount Holyoke College. He has a 14-year-old daughter and he graduated from UMass, so I guess MHC seems as good a place as any to look into. People always ask me about it, but it's rare that I give any kind of answer with content. Here is my email to him. I thought it was interesting since, truthfully, I didn't know what I thought of the college until I wrote this email.

If there are MoHos reading this, please comment.

Are you ready for a book on my thoughts about Mount Holyoke?

Truthfully, I had a rough start there, but I wouldn't have traded in my MHC experience for anything else in the world. Granted, mine was likely the last class to experience a lot of the original Mount Holyoke. In my 4 years there, Joanne "JoJo" Creighton, the college president, has tried time and again to get rid of Mount Holyoke's traditions in order to change its image to keep up with the times.

The students, however, fight back as much as they can and have banded together to preserve what we feel is what makes MHC what it is: the honor code, community, liberalism, M&Cs [milk and cookies], safe space, Dis-Orientation, Big Sister-Little Sister, Elfing, the Laurel Parade, and making leaders of young women-- most of which can be summed up in MHC Tradition. While I was there, I saw the death of one of the original logos, the tennis courts by lower lake, dining halls in every dorm, dining hall announcements [made by banging your utensils on your dishes-- it's amazing what things matter in a school like that], hall boards, quad wars, and the list goes on. I also witnessed the reconstruction of our once perfect campus center and the near death of traditions like Dis-O, M&C's, self-scheduled exams, and Convocation.

At the same time, I was talking to some of the Hawaii firsties-- Hawaii has a really strong MHC community; we have several M&C gatherings a year and often get together just to hang out-- and many of them are LOVING their experience there because they aren't aware of what is missing from that experience.

I guess I didn't talk a lot about the academics, but I guess it's because I don't feel that's what matters most there. Yes, it's one of the toughest schools in the U.S. and it has the highest workload in the nation. And yes, you have every resource available to you in the 5-college consortium... but MHC is about tradition... so that's my two cents.

Hope it helps...?

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