For many Bowdoin students—particularly older and wiser upperclassmen—warm weather and spring on campus can only mean one thing: Ivies Weekend. It's just around the corner, and with it will come the most energetic showing of campus spirit at the College all year, from the robust attendance on the (hopefully) sun-soaked Quad for Saturday's Spring Concert to the mass exoduses to Harpswell and Pine Street on Friday and Saturday nights. These outdoor events, open to all, are the ones that leave us smiling through the grind of finals and graduation goodbyes.
While Friday night and Saturday afford plenty of time to be outside, Friday morning and afternoon keeps a number of students in classrooms, labs and other commitments. Professors who teach courses or hold meetings on Fridays must notice the drop in student attendance—or at least a lack of enthusiasm in the classroom. While many professors opt to hold classes as usual, insisting that an hour or two of class should not hinder our plans for Ivies, we've known other professors to voluntarily cancel class and decide against coming to campus entirely.
Although we (and our parents) realize how valuable (and expensive) class time is, we propose the cancellation of classes and commitments on the Friday of Ivies so students may participate in the campus-wide festivities that characterize the Ivies spirit. Though we realize that asking administrators to cancel classes may seem like a tall order that simply allows us to dodge responsibility, a look at some of our peers reveals that other institutions cancel classes to fully embrace, celebrate and advocate annual traditions.
Consider Williams and Smith Colleges, who have been canceling classes for decades in observation of "Mountain Day" every fall. On one particularly nice morning of the fall semester, the presidents of each college declare classes canceled, ringing campus bells to signify that students are free to enjoy the day outside. Williams also suspends classes on the Friday of its Winter Carnival to make time for a number of activities, which have included varsity athletic events, a dogsled race, fireworks and a range of themed parties over the years. By canceling classes, these colleges make time to honor beloved traditions, reinforcing the values of their communities.
Though Bowdoin doesn't have a wealth of quirky traditions, we do have Ivies, and we have held on to the sense of history associated with it. What began as Ivy Day on October 26, 1865, when the junior class planted ivy near the Chapel, developed into a spring celebration with evolving traditions. While we no longer plant ivy or award a wooden spoon to the most attractive male (as we once did), we still honor the memory.
The desire to fully participate in this traditional weekend presents students with a predicament when professors insist on Friday attendance. Sitting in a Friday afternoon class knowing that our friends are celebrating with long-awaited plans for Ivies is not only insufferable, but entirely contrary to the idea of an inclusive spring weekend. We certainly don't want to encourage students to skip classes and shirk all Friday responsibilities for the sake of partying, but we appreciate the rare opportunity that Ivies Weekend presents for us to rally behind a College tradition. By the end of April we've survived another barely bearable Maine winter and are on the home stretch toward finals. Why should some of us celebrate while others sit in lectures? Don't we deserve one day off—a snow day in spring, a sick day in good health—to celebrate our common efforts?
With that said, we encourage the College to recognize what Ivies Weekend stands for and to support and honor the tradition by rescheduling or canceling our classes for one Friday. In doing so, we can all kick off the weekend with the enthusiastic sense of community that Ivies represents.The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which comprises Piper Grosswendt, Will Jacob, Gemma Leghorn and Seth Walder.