A lone, wrapped crutch attached to a low-hanging branch wavers in the breeze. Bird seed lies scattered around, and a man is perched, one hand gripping a wide tree trunk, one hand holding a red solo cup, with his pants pulled down around his knees. Dubstep with electronic rooster crows plays in the background. People crowd around. The man cries out a last hoorah as a statement for the ending of the evening, “For the Catalyst!” In that moment, a blow dart sinks its teeth into his rear, and the crowd howls. Welcome to Colorado College party culture.
In addition to rigorous academics and an increasingly competitive applicant pool, Colorado College is known by students as a place for the inner partier within. However, this culture comes with negative implications: personal safety risks and hook-up culture. At the same time an integral part of this campus’s identity is the community that students foster through events, especially parties. As seniors pack up their belongings and recycle their Genesee cans, many students fear that the CC identity may be at stake with a death of the party culture. If party culture is dying on this campus, as many seniors fear, what other values will fall to the waistline as casualty?
The party culture at CC is known to pose slight personal safety risks through an abundance of self-made wooden platforms and rundown off-campus housing issues. In one instance, a house confessed that a girl partially fell, via broken air vent, four feet through the floor. While these issues are taken by some to be a risk of any house party, one commonly overlooked issue is the hook-up culture and its dependency upon the party scene.
All houses interviewed unanimously agreed that hook-up culture relies upon the party culture. Senior Jack McCormmick, resident of a house known to students as “The Hoos”, said, “hook-up culture and party culture are definitely dependent.” There are many arguments around the negative effects of the emergence of hook-up culture. Junior Joyce Zhang, resident of the “Homo-Depot”, said, “Our generation is scared of our vulnerability and our honesty, and hooking up is an escape from participating [in emotional intimacy].” While the issues involving hook-up culture are known, and party culture is a proponent of this negative lifestyle, each house has its own unique mission to contribute to the CC community in a positive way. The party culture can be seen as more beneficial than damaging.
The Homo-Depot, known for its Wall of Nudes, takes a positive stance towards body image and hook-up culture. Within the house, there is a sign that reads “Consent is Sexy,” and the residents have a positive message behind their wall of nude pornography. Zhang said, “When it comes to nudes, common word associations are ‘slut’ and ‘whore.’ [The wall of nudes] says that we can take nudes too, but not for your benefit.” For Zhang, the wall is all about feeling sexy and being proud of your sexuality.
The residents of “The Hoos” also want people to have a good time and enjoy their college experience. While “The Hoos” will likely not remain a party house next year—all residents of the house are departing seniors—the tenants wish to give other students a proper send-off in the time remaining. Resident senior Tommy Riley said, “We just want people to have a good time.”
Pillar House resident John Brah has a similar belief. While the pillar house is more of a niche party location, only catering to the early-morning and evening party-goers, Bosco-Borah believes that the Pillar House is a location made for embracing individuality. In his words, the Pillar House is a place for “the misfits and our inner psychos.” Together, these houses hold certain ideals that contribute to the diversity and complexity of the CC community.
The seniors who live in these party houses are worried about the party culture dying at CC. Borah said, “The party culture died last year, and whatever is left of the party culture dies with us.” Senior Zach Pawa, resident of “The Hoos”, as well as many other off-campus seniors, attribute the disappearance of the party culture to an increase in CC’s purchase of local housing as well as an increase in juniors living off-campus and neglecting to throw parties. Pawa added, “Party culture is a really important aspect of Colorado College. When we came, I distinctly remember when you went out on the weekend there would be multiple parties. I think there is less and less of that here.”
While the party culture at CC comes with negative components, overall the partying community and its hosts are united by a common goal: to have a good time. With seniors leaving and many fearing the disappearance of one of CC’s identifying traits, the question remains: Will we uphold our free-spirited, inclusive identity as a community or recluse into our own rooms and take solace in quiet wine nights? In the future we can only hope to uphold the positive legacy of a party culture lifestyle and take its glories and its problems as they come.