By Isobel Steenrod
During Homecoming Weekend, alumni flocked to campus to celebrate with their classmates, watch sports games, and relive old college days. I took the opportunity to chat with some alumni to hear stories about Colorado College “Back in the Day.”
Throwing it all the way back to 1971, I spoke with an alumnus who was really breaking it down on the dance floor. During his time as a CC student, this alumnus had a friend who worked for the forest service in Wyoming and somehow came into ownership of an old but functional firetruck. They set up a catapult on top of the truck, and would drive around downtown Colorado Springs, sirens blaring, launching giant water balloons at people.
Moving up through the years, I talked to some folks from the class of ’99. The old library apparently used to have a tunnel under it, just wide enough for a golf cart. An alumnus told me how he and his friends would drive around campus late at night, and their favorite spot to do so was back and forth through the tunnel. Campus Safety eventually got word of this dangerous activity and would wait for them under the library in a golf cart. However, the alumnus said with a gleeful smile, “Our car was so much faster than a golf cart, so we would do donuts around them and drive off.”
The class of ’04 was here for their 15th reunion. I met a couple who had their fateful first kiss on the quad outside the library and have stayed together ever since. The husband of that couple told me a story from his first year at CC. While rushing FIJI, the blossoming fraternity brothers thought it would be a funny prank to pull a tree out of the quad. They tackled the tree until it toppled over and dragged it back to the FIJI house. They thought they were in the clear — what a good prank! Stealing a tree! — until Campus Safety simply followed the wide trail of dirt leading from the quad to the frat house the next morning.
The class of ’09 was probably the best represented, with many alumni back for their 10th reunion. Some of their stories involved debauchery of the highest order and will not be included here. A decade ago, the Loomis basement was called the “Wastement” because students would brew beer in the basement bathtub. Apparently, they only stopped because someone started meditating in the bathtub instead.
A questionable business that operated around 2009 was the Garden of the Gods Car Rental, which would rent cars to people well under the age of 25. One alumna said that she and her friends would rent a big van and take it skiing all the time. The company has since closed.
Because I had heard rumors about the Mathias Riot of 2005, I tried my best to get to the bottom of the story. All I could gather was that a large group of students barricaded a section of Mathias and had a party. The alumnus who told me this wouldn’t spill any more, but instead told me that during his first year, he and some friends would pack sleeping bags and beer, illegally hike and climb up to the top of the towers of Garden of the Gods, strap themselves in, and spend the night looking at the stars.
The CC live music scene is still known for some wild house parties that have resulted in a few collapsed floors, but one alumnus reminisced about the time his band played a song called “BreakHouse,” and people were dancing so hard throughout and on top of the house that the roof caved in. That same band held another concert in the Shove tower, and afterwards threw their instruments down to shatter on the ground below.
Some alumni chipped in that CC seems structurally different now. The campus feels more open because of renovations, and there are more windows than from their time at CC.
A class of ’14 alum said, “We used to have to fight for an outlet in the library.”
I asked all of these people to share stories about their time at CC, and most of them were crazy parties or happy moments. People want to look back fondly. But in one conversation, we talked about the work hard/play hard environment that CC can have, and the pressure for college to be the best four years of your life. At CC, mental health can get swept under the rug in order to make it seem like you are having fun.
One alum told me, “CC is a beautiful paradise, and they do nothing to prepare you for the hellhole that is the real world.”
My personal hope is that college is a great four years that catalyzes growth and character building, and helps people realize how they want to be intentional with their education and how they will make an impact in their field. Post-grad life is still full of many cool and fun opportunities.