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Hamilton, Isolated?

April 10, 2013   

On Wednesdays, I usually go to Sadove (the campus student center) after lunch to study before class. Recently, with the advent of Spring and college admissions deadlines fast approaching, the number of tours on campus has dramatically increased. They also always show up at Sadove while I'm there, which can be pretty entertaining. A few of my friends are tour guides so I can always give them a wave and make them look popular in front of their tours (naw I'm just joking, they pay other people to do that).

I must first say that most all of the tour guides give great tours. I'm sure it's difficult to keep visitors entertained while trekking around campus in all sorts of bizarre central New York weather. But I happened to overhear a tour group's conversation the other day and I was SO tempted to butt in, because the prospective student asked a great question that was met with a rather unsatisfactory answer.

The visitor's question was, "Do you ever feel isolated at Hamilton?" This was probably referring to  Clinton's extremely small size and the distance between Hamilton and Syracuse, which is the closest city not counting Utica - but no one really counts Utica. The tour guide's answer was a rather vague "Ah it's not really a factor" before moving on to talk about student publication. But in my opinion, if a student is considering spending the next four years here, he or she deserves a more well-rounded answer.

So here is my answer: Yes, Hamilton can feel a bit remote - but that is also partially why Hamilton is a) is such a blast and b) has such a strong community.  The lack of activities to do off-campus actually makes what's happening on campus so much more interesting. People become much more creative when they have to make their own fun.And from what I've heard from friends attending schools in urban areas, their on-campus community isn't nearly as exciting or close-knit as Hamilton's. At those schools, some students commute, a lot live off campus, and it doesn't really have the same feel that Hamilton does. Here, you literally cannot walk down Martin's Way during the day without having to wave or say hi to at least four people, because on a small campus you end up meeting a lot of different people. Which is great!

It is true that campus can start feeling like a bubble, at times. But the time at which Hamilton started feeling small to me coincided perfectly with my study abroad semester. And by the time that semester ended, I wanted to be back on campus. All my friends who are abroad right now really miss being on "the Hill" and always ask me what they are missing out on. 

In addition, a lot of philanthropic organizations on campus are focused on reaching out more to the community. Once a week I get off campus and go teach English to refugee students in downtown Utica. Other people tutor local Clinton middle school students or volunteer at the local nursing home. And if there is a big concert happening in Syracuse, a forty minute drive doesn't stop people from getting there. Sometimes, Hamilton can a bit of a bubble, but with friends, community service events, sports teams, clubs, student organizations and CAB campus-wide concerts and comedy shows - it's hard to feel isolated here.