By Killian Walsh '14
Right now, most students at Bennington are talking about graduation. Whether it’s excitement over the coming summer, heated debate about that commencement craziness, or a more general musing on what adult life will be like, it’s May and we can see anticipation in every senior’s eyes. For me, though, looking at the past isn’t helping anything, and maybe it’s because I’m worried about how much I’ll miss my friends once they matriculate, but farewells aren’t on my mind. I’m focused on something else entirely: the Class of 2017.
Like a bank of dark and sinister storm clouds slowly advancing down on the college from nearby mountains, this next group of eager scholars has me feeling uneasy. The winds are changing, and even though by then I’ll be a member of the senior class, lord knows there’ll be some student dissatisfied with their entry-level position, some energetic person drunk on ambition who’s determined to get to the top. And I fear them.
Usually, the waves of incoming students mean nothing more to the average Benningtonian than some fresh faces and new affectations to adjust to. So now there’s a kid who only speaks in palindromes? Great. Welcome to the party. People are all of a sudden wearing tunics and demanding that dining services cater to their paleolithic diets? Cool. Why not screen Quest for Fire in Tishman? The silliness does not unnerve me.
It’s the student with designs who haunts my dreams--and I’m not talking about someone who does architecture. Perhaps they are a social climber, a high school debutante determined to dance and dine in our campus’ most elite circles, someone who sees this small pool of a school as something to be conquered, won. Or maybe they are a person committed to creating a persona for their time in higher education, one with three Deschanels-worth of quirks, and a presence that demands to be noticed--or else. Still worse, this mystery mastermind could see college as the place to test drive every vice they’ve ever imagined: cigarettes, wanton sexuality, whippets, going to raves, becoming ratchet, butt whippets, et al.
Surely these examples seems extreme, and maybe this concern of mine is nothing more than a premature, curmudgeonly fear of inevitable change. But I look at those mountains, and I see those storm clouds, and I wonder. Could it be, that this hypothetical freshman, this Lucifer of the Lawn, this James Spader of the greater Green Mountain area, is a creature unlike any seen before? Oh yes, my friends. And are they, perhaps, a type of student so radical, so unique in their individual devastation that no student in recent memory can comprehend the chaos? Only time will tell.
With this in mind, is it better that we sit idly by, enjoying our summers and sweet teas as the days grow longer and the nights more sultry, or shall we make ready the machines of war? Are we better served to face this foe through recuperation, or preparation? Fear not, fellows, for I have a plan. And it is elaborate.
It’s imperative that we give the appearance everything is normal. Nothing out of the ordinary to draw this dark stranger’s attention. Then, gradually, as the year progresses, we press on them from all sides, forcing this student to participate in bizarre initiation rituals and excessive bong rips; hazing ceremonies and social alienation; depressing group dance parties and acts of courtship that will forever scar their soul. It is only through darkness that we can defeat darkness, and the enormity of this evil is worth sparing no expense.
So do not be alarmed, my friends, for now it is safe. But remember: remain ever vigilant. The senior class sleeps, unaware of these evils, as they are preoccupied by knowledge, by encroaching maturity, and by an uncanny awareness of ‘the big picture’. Therefore we must take up the banner of Bennington and defend our little college from encroaching darkness. We owe it to ourselves, to the school, to the senior class. Worry not, 2013’ers. This one’s on us.