As we return from a fall break that somehow escaped us in the blink of an eye and we see the leaves slowly turning to crimson and gold, I believe it is an appropriate time for us to reflect on some important questions that inevitably float across our minds: Just how, oh how, is Vassar so amazing? How is it that it feels like I have passed through a portal into another world when I step onto this campus? When, oh when, will we be blessed with a hot cocoa machine?
I believe answers to these important questions (minus the hot cocoa machine) will be discussed below.
Before we begin, I must pop your bubble: Vassar isn’t the best place on Earth. (“Whaaaaaat??!!” I know, I’ve now destroyed this central pillar of your belief system. Don’t worry, let me explain.) You see, the bubble that I just popped actually reveals a more concerning bubble: the “Vassar bubble”. I hear people speak of the Vassar bubble almost regularly, but not until taking a trip off the campus to visit friends at another college did I fully appreciate how much we drop the ball.
The most important thing I learned from Oberlin is that Vassar has a wall problem. And when I say a wall problem, I mean a stack of stones problem. Luckily, it isn’t as bad as a bed bugs infestation, but we should be itching to make a change all the same. You see, you probably haven’t noticed (or maybe you have), but we have these sneaky little rocks stacked around our campus that physically separate us from us the “outside world.” For those who have had the courage to go beyond the gates, you will learn some important things:
a. My Market is crazily overpriced.
b. People still smoke.
c. Walls are dumb.
When I really started to think about that pesky wall, I realized something: We complain about how isolated we are, but in reality, we are isolating ourselves. We have built a physical boundary between us and Poughkeepsie. Maybe that was necessary in the 1800s when the first Vassar students needed to be hidden away so they could run down the hallways in Main in their large skirts, but today it is just ridiculous. Oberlin, on the other hand, does it much better. There, the town is mixed in with the college. One building is the house of a local resident, and the next is student housing. The Conservatory of Music is on the same block as the local stores. The biggest square “on campus” is actually property of the town of Oberlin. Oberlin seems to be a pioneer of how community can be fostered simply by removing barriers.
I know what you’re thinking: “Maya, now wait just a minute. We have great things like womp-womps, Sunset Lake, the Deece…I mean, come on, the Deece!”
While all those things are quite extraordinary, I am afraid to report that Oberlin outshines us in them all. They don’t have womp-womps, but they have squirrels, which, unlike womp-womps, you get to see all the time. They reportedly even have two albino squirrels. If you ask me, I think it’s time to start a rumor about an albino womp- omp.
Like Vassar, Oberlin also has a lake, but even better than Vassar’s. At Oberlin, you can go swimming in the lake (or skinny-dipping if you are so inclined!). However, it’s probably good that we don’t swim in Sunset Lake. Have you seen those geese? Well, I’ve seen those geese. I do not recommend making that change.
Somehow, Oberlin wins yet again in the dining competition. While they do have a dining service, students can also live and eat at co-ops, where they decide what they are going to buy and then cook for the others in their co-op. I’m sorry Ferry House, but you alone are not enough.
When you live in a co-op, you eat a lot of len- tils and rice, and who doesn’t love those?
I think the most magical thing about Oberlin College is how psychic people are. It was like I had a sign on my forehead that said “Ask me about that friend that you have who goes to Vassar!” (Wait…was I wearing a hat..?) Anyway, we really have to beef up security around here because apparently all of our identities are known in Ohio!
In conclusion, I think Vassar can learn some important lessons from Oberlin:
1. Carpeted floors in dorm hallways. Socks and slippers for the win! They’re perfect! Well, at least it works until someone throws up on them.
2. Not stealing bikes. At Oberlin, you can fail to lock your bike to something, and it won’t get stolen!
3. Flatness. While the whole town may be surrounded by corn, it is a huge perk to go to the gym without having to hike up a big hill.
While there are clearly some great things Vassar can learn from Oberlin, Oberlin could use a few lessons of its own:
1. You can have dorms higher than three stories. If you have one with nine stories, it makes for great fall pictures of your quad.
2. Ease of getting to campus. Sorry not sorry, you guys don’t get to go to school near a real city. The city that never sleeps vs. the rock and roll capital of the world (wait, Cleveland is the rock and roll capital of the world?): You take your pick.
3. A nice library. Sure, the Mudd Library is large and square…and pure concrete and looks like a dungeon. So let me recommend a dose of Hogwarts to improve your look.
So, Vassar and Oberlin, I think we can come out of this being friends. The only thing we need to truly settle our differences is a good old albino squirrel vs. albino womp-womp brawl.