Saturday, June 5, 2010


I'm feeling nostalgic tonight. This weekend is reunion weekend at my alma mater, Wells College. A school I loved with all my heart and soul. A small woman's college that sat directly on a lake.

The above is our boathouse and the dock I spent many an hour watching the stars from. I would love to be there now.

I arrived at Wells in the fall of 199X and didn't leave for four solid years. I stayed in town during the summer and worked at the college. I knew the school inside and out. It's the place where I discovered myself and grew so much as a person and where I learned so many valuable life skills (and also I sometimes went to class and learned there too). It was home to me. When coming into town you see the bell tower before you see anything else. I always knew I was home when I could see the bell tower.

But the college of my memories is no longer. Five and a half years ago alumnae got the notification that the following fall the college would be going co-ed. And as if that wasn't bad enough it was going co-ed under the leadership of a fellow alumna. A sister. I am still bitter.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against co-education. I'm against my school being co-ed. Because by going co-ed it lost it's niche. See, down the lake there's a very large very prestigious university (ahem, I'm looking at you Cornell) and a larger co-ed liberal arts college (and now I'm looking at you Ithaca College). Up the lake there is another large university (known as the home of the Orangemen). Across the lake another co-ed liberal arts college (yeah, you might never have heard of this one so never mind). Not to mention the countless other institutions of higher learning in a pretty small radius. What made Wells unique, being a woman's college, is now no more.

And the reason we were told it was going co-ed was because it was going to bring in more money. Bring in the revenue to save the school. That hasn't happened. The future for the college looks bleak (perhaps the most bleak it has ever looked) and the alumna president, a fellow sister, is still at the helm of this sinking ship. And this makes me sad and angry but mostly sad.

The Wells of my memories will live on forever. But the Wells of today, well, I wouldn't be surprised to see it's doors closed for good in the next five years. Thankfully I've been out of school long enough that my work experience speaks for itself on my resume. But imagine having a degree from a school that just shut it's doors in this job market or when trying to get into grad school? Wow. I imagine that would suck.

Through the miracle that is Facebook I understand that the president's address at reunion was more of the same line of bullshit the administration has been feeding us for as long as I can remember. How can people not see that a regime change is in order? How can the board of trustees not see the downward spiral the college has taken since madam alumna has been president? Madam completely fucking unqualified alumna that is. One likes to be accurate when one is referencing professional titles. It's is beyond infuriating. Particularly so for me because working at a college I've seen first hand how much good a change in leadership can do for a school that's having financial difficulties.

And the sad thing is that there are so many talented alumnae, so many of us with skills and know how to help. But no one will listen. They don't want to hear what we have to say. Instead they force through a "strategic plan" that's more of the same old same old (which has been oh so effective for the last decade or so). They can't go co-ed again, but I'm sure if they could they'd be doing it in a heartbeat.

Anyhow, I'm feeling nostalgic for my time at Wells tonight. Nostalgic for the fun (and sometimes not so much fun) I had with the beautiful, talented, strong, funny, intelligent, kind, caring, generous, you name it women, no not just women, sisters, that I spent those four years with. They are some of the most incredible and amazing people I have ever met. And though it's not my reunion year I know many of my friends are in Aurora this weekend. Listening to the bullshit coming from the administration. But also reliving their time there (and if I know my sisters having a drink or five down at the Fargo). I imagine those four years had a profound impact on all of us. I know they certainly did for me.

And yes, I know, everyone's college experience is special in it's own way. But I can guarantee you that no one else's experience was like ours. There was just something so special about it. And that's another thing which makes me sad. The generations of young women who won't get to experience that specialness like we did. Henry Wells is rolling over and over and over in his grave right now I imagine. If he'd intended to start a co-ed school he'd have done so. Or better yet, just gone to work at Cornell with his buddy Ezra. But no, he had a vision and that vision was a woman's college. And an alumna destroyed it.

I could go on and on and on about this. Seriously, for like days and days I could go on. I try not to think about it at all most of the time because I get so sad and so angry. But sometimes you just gotta let it out. Sometimes you swim in the dark waters of your anger and nostalgia and long for the days when you could walk out your dorm room door at any time of the day or night and always find someone to talk to. And yeah, you might still have been lonely, but you were never ever alone. Long for the days when you were still hopeful that this still new alumna president would be good for the college you loved so dearly. When your rose colored glasses were still firmly planted on the bridge of your nose instead of lying shattered and broken on the floor.

There are two songs for this post. First up is the alma mater. The REAL alma mater, not the one they're using now with the words changed. That song will NEVER be my alma mater.

Fair Wells with loyal hearts
Thy DAUGHTERS ever sing
And to the name we love
Thy joyous tributes bring

And Wells, dear Wells we shout in singing
To thee our songs we raise
Thee would we ever praise
Our alma mater, dear alma mater!

To thee our songs we raise
Thee would we ever praise
Our alma mater, Beloved Wells!

And here's the one we sang to congratulate one of our sisters for something, for anything really.

Oh (name) we sing to you
You are so good and true
We'll all be loyal to you
We raise your name
And praise you to
And so we sing to dear old Wells
And you! Hey!

Both songs end in a fist pump by the way. Because we're classy like that.


Kellie said...

I am with you Sister!!! Kellie '95

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog as I was looking for the REAL lyrics of our alma mater song. I loved your post and couldn't have said it better. Thanks for saying what so many of us think!
Anna '92