Every year, returning students are the cornerstone of preserving and passing on campus traditions. Whether that be through yearly school-ordained events or carefully planned campus-wide games, students have the opportunity to create their own traditions and experiences during their time at New College. Being a very student-forward institution means there is a need for initiative, so the Catalyst spoke with various students, current and past, to document the effort and planning that goes into creating and upholding traditions.
The event is exactly what it sounds like: a New College twist on the classic music festival Woodstock. This annual event hosted every Spring semester by the office of Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SAUCE) has enjoyed a large turnout every year.. Although last semester’s event experienced rain throughout, the energy of attendees, vendors and musical acts was present and palpable.
Last year’s main organizer, Student Event Team (SET) Traditions Coordinator Emma Halbisen (’23) spoke with the Catalyst about her experience with what kind of work goes into planning the event. “Day of, it’s all hands on deck,” Halbisen said. “Every member of the SAUCE office helps out with set-up, event operations and tear down. We also rely on support from the bandroom & EQTA’s, Physical Plant, the Recreation staff, student volunteers and other campus partners. Without them, there wouldn’t be a Newstock.
“Maggie, who currently handles ‘Weekend’ events, planned Newstock in 2022, and passed down very detailed documents about her planning process,” Halbisen recounted. “I truly owe the 2023 Newstock success to Maggie and the other brilliant women in SAUCE, without their wisdom I would’ve been completely lost.”
SAUCE Coordinator Gabriela Ott (’22) shared some insight as an alum who not only experienced Newstock, but helped plan it as a professional staff member. “When I was a first year, Newstock was run by one very passionate student, but after she graduated the event was so large that it didn’t happen again,” Ott explained. “Students still really wanted to see Newstock stay a tradition, so SAUCE took it on and had the SET Coordinators take over the planning. This way it was still in the hands of students, but now is a required traditional event which will continue on.”
Newstock has a long history on campus, changing names a handful of times throughout the years, and iterations having been planned by various campus groups such as the now inactive NCF Zine Collective.
“Newstock takes months of planning to prepare,” Ott continued. “I supervised Emma for her planning of Newstock last year and was so proud of how hard she worked to put on a big and fun event.”
Dort & Goldstein Balcony Decorating
While the balcony adorning tradition doesn’t fall under the sphere of campus events or parties, its existence adds another splash of color to the New College campus. In previous years, upperclassmen living in Dort or Goldstein, typically called Gold, would hang flags representing any and all types of affinities ranging from countries of origin, Dungeon and Dragons (DnD) guilds, pride flags, favorite sports teams and memes. The two connected buildings, with spacious rooms and removed enough from most other dorms for thesis students to peacefully complete their work, served as an upperclassmen haven.
This year, returning students can notice the lack of decoration on the balconies of Dort and Gold. This year is also the first that the residents of Dort and Gold overwhelmingly consist of first-year students. A Catalyst reporter spoke to a group of current Dort and Gold residents.
“I’m Filipino and I do have a flag,” first-year Owen McKinley said. “I’ve seen people with flags in their dorms but not outside.”
The group agreed they had no idea about the tradition’s existence and seemed eager to contribute, agreeing that “it would be cool to represent their flags.”
In classic New College fashion, students add a splash of color to campus, personalizing any space possible. This is mostly apparent in the Hamilton “Ham” Center, but each corner of campus showcases a piece of New College students, past and present.
CGA Earth Day Festival
Every year Earth Day rolls around and people are reminded to care for the Earth and slow down for a second to smell the roses. The Council of Green Affairs (CGA) took this notion seriously when creating the CGA Earth Day Festival that students know and love today. One of the newer traditions on this list, there is plenty of room for growth–pun intended–but the attention the two year-old tradition garners is undeniable.
“When it was my first year, I was a part of the CGA, and we wanted to do something for Earth Day, so why not a festival?” third-year and previous CGA Co-chair Noah Tyler recounted. “Last year during my second year I became one of the Co-chairs, and me and the other Co-chair thought, ‘You know what? Let’s do it again.’”
Thesis student and CGA Co-Chair Meilah Wimbush gave more information about why the festival began and continues. “There’s always been Earth Day related events that the CGA has hosted, but the 2022 Earth Day Festival was the original kick-off of this new annual tradition, one that I hope continues after I graduate.
“With Earth Day, we wanted our largest event of the year to be the capstone to all of the work done by the CGA members in our green spaces and [to] show students the resources they have on campus,” Wimbush continued.
While preparations meant hard work gathering numerous professors, clubs, bands and campus offices, the two previous hosts emphasized the importance of recognizing and celebrating Earth Day as a national event to appreciate the land we live on and one another.
This tradition is not so much like the others. Zombies is a week-long game during October where most students start the game as “humans” and two chosen students are designated as the first zombie and the “human carrier,” someone who acts and plays with humans but can tag them discreetly without risking their cover. The game itself is played campus-wide with “safe zones,” including, but not limited to: academic buildings, the overpass, dorms and Ham.
At the height of the pandemic, the game adapted to include the use of masks and water guns instead of the usual method of physically tagging someone. While masks may not be required anymore, the use of water guns will persist for the sake of fun.
“The water guns keep it silly and lighthearted,” thesis student and 2023 Zombies Gamemaster Alaina Card said. “Tried and true, it works and it reduces the chance of physical altercations and injury. Despite the more serious, anxiety-inducing nature of the game, we want people to still have a good time and be reminded that it’s a game for fun.”
Although Zombies did not happen in the 2022 Fall semester, it serves as a reminder that students make and propagate traditions year by year, and with no initiative, some of New College’s most cherished traditions can fade. It can be up to an individual or group of friends to start, revive or continue traditions. With many students well-versed in hosting events on campus, they stand as invaluable resources to be learned from for new students. If there is an event that hasn’t been done in years or ever before, these past examples show that any student can make the first move to forge lasting traditions.