Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

Campus Life

Heartbreak Hill

Posted on April 21, 2011

I'm still recovering from my crazy celebration of that uniquely Massachusetts holiday, Patriots Day, and heck, I'm just worn out from the excitement.  Each year, I like to dress up in a cotton bedgown, fire a musket and recite "Paul Revere's Ride" in a British accent (I'm a big fan of irony, as some of you know).  And of course, I tune in to the Boston Marathon, which I'm sure is what Longfellow meant by "a hurry of hoofs on a village street."  The best marathoners in the world, and yet some are done in by the hills of Newton (Newton! For goodness' sake!), especially the last one, the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. 

And that, of course, turns my thoughts to you, young Lyons.  You're just about at the equivalent of that 20-mile mark, and you may feel your legs beginning to cramp up.  To you, I say, soldier on!  You can even borrow my musket.  The semester will end, and you will have days to sleep and nights to relax without the guilt of a paper to write or a book to read. 

Before that, however, we will experience the runner's high of Spring Weekend.  Get Your Neon?!?!  That is way clever.  The full schedule is available on those posters you'll be seeing throughout the coming week, but that, of course, is not what I want to mention.  I'd like to take this space to remind you that yes, the rules apply during Spring Weekend.  Rules that require you to be respectful, in control of your behavior (and your guests' behavior), follow state and local ordinances, and clean up after yourselves.  I'd like to add "thrifty, clean and reverent" to that list, but I know my limits. 

If you choose to attend Spring Weekend events, please leave at home any open containers, backpacks or coolers, along with any alcohol.

Bottom line:  ignoring the rules and the Honor Code during Spring Weekend can have serious consequences, as some have learned the hard way:  you can be suspended or expelled, or, less drastic but still disappointing, be prohibited from participating in Senior Week or Commencement.  Seniors—I don't imagine you want to explain to your parents why you won't be marching with your class on May 21st.  As I like to say around here, in my best dean of students voice, don’t risk what you are not willing to lose.  So please—be smart, have fun, and take care of one another. 

A special note to my friends who live off-campus in houses that have a certain reputation with the Norton Police.  The police know it's Spring Weekend and will likely be out in greater numbers than usual.  Please manage your abodes appropriately.  We've had an excellent year in this regard, so let's keep that going. 

I've gotten a few questions from students of late, so let me share the answers with all of you.

Nick commented, "The new Science Center is pretty big.  Is it going to open on time?" 

Yes, the Mars Center, as it will be called, is darn big.  And pretty, too.  All reports are that it is on schedule, so barring any unforeseen complications, it will be up and running when you return in the fall.  

Caitlin asked, "Why are you changing the housing rules and allowing more first-year students to live on upper campus?"

Actually, the number of rooms reserved for first-years on upper campus, all of them doubles, is not much greater than it was this year.  When we opened last fall, we had about 70 first-years.  This year, we held 80 beds.  I realize there are upperclass students who want to live in singles on upper campus, but there simply aren't enough of them, and it's not because we're housing more first-year students there.  If you don't have a good lottery number, you may have to make a choice:  double room on upper or single on lower.  This is often how life works.  If you chose a single in Meadows, you chose well.  I think you'll find the newly-renovated rooms to be quite nice.  And for those of you who say you don't like living with first-year students?  You were once one of them, and so you know you can have a positive influence on them if you want.  Try being something of a role model, and I suspect most of them will rise to the standard you set. 

Here's my question for you:  What is so hard about placing an empty beer can in a trash barrel?  Just wondering. 

Some other stuff going on:  The two hardest-working groups in the policy review business, Yellow Wood Commission and the Sexual (Mis) Conduct Assembly, are wrapping up their work and about to announce recommendations for new policies, protocols, programs and initiatives.  I am proud of all the members of these groups, and grateful for the care and thoughtfulness with which they’ve approached this complicated work.  In the next few weeks, you'll be hearing from the co-chairs of both groups about what those recommendations are, and from me about next steps.  I have this sense that we are in the midst of some historical change at Wheaton thanks in large part to the work these students, faculty and staff have been doing.  We are finding ways to address behavior and attitudes that reflect the most positive aspects of this community.  We are moving away from punitive responses to responses that expect and encourage mature and respectful behavior.  More on all of this later, but thanks again to the fine Wheaton family members who have devoted their time and energy to these efforts for three semesters (Yellow Wood) and all this year (SMCA). 

I will see you all next week at Spring Weekend Events.  Be of good cheer as you complete this semester, and folks:  finish the race.  Remember, Heartbreak Hill is actually only an 88 feet elevation gain.  You can do this.  You can.

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