Who Killed Madrigals?

By: Josh S. | Nov 06, 2009 | 699 Views Opinion |

The immediate answer is the Athenaeum staff, but it’s more complicated than that.  After 26 years of the Madrigal Dinner tradition at Claremont McKenna, this year David Edwards and Bonnie Snortum, the Athenaeum’s Manager and Director, respectively, decided that tradition is over, at least for now.

madrigalsThis is sad for many reasons.  The most obvious reason is that CMC, a college only 63 years old, has few historic traditions as it is.  CMC has no geographic or architectural significance, no statues of our founders on campus, and now, almost no significant annual events.  Maybe the closest we come to a tradition is the Foam Party, and that isn’t even at CMC.  Madrigals were rare in that they not only involved students, but they were about holiday cheer, food, and song.  For 26 years, alumni, faculty, and students came together on a few nights in early December for a five-course meal, medieval-themed skits, and choir performance.

So what caused the Athenaeum to end the tradition?  According to Ms. Snortum, a few things made it difficult to keep the event going.

First, live traditional Madrigal music was hard to come by.  The Scripps Chamber Choir that performed at Madrigals for 24 years refused to do so two years ago when the new Director of Choirs, Charles Kamm, decided it wasn’t worth a week of preparation for Madrigals if CMCers weren’t respectful of the performance.  In addition, Dean Debra Woods at Scripps College, who was in attendance that year, wrote a letter to President Gann complaining about the drinking she saw at the event. Given all of this, the Athenaeum Advisory Committee — a group of faculty, staff and students — decided that Madrigals was going to be difficult if not impossible to continue.

Brad Walters ’08, ASCMC President at the time, fought to keep the tradition alive by reviving the event with 5C a capella groups instead of the traditional choir.  It worked for the first year, but it was not comparable to a real chamber choir.  Brad also e-mailed the school to ask them to be on their best behavior at the event. It worked; the tradition lasted another year.

The next year, ASCMC again hired some a capella groups to perform, but some dropped out at the last minute.  The music was pretty bad.  The alcohol problem got worse.  Many students decided to pre-game the event, showing up blacked out or worse.  Students were disrespectful to the Madrigal-themed servers, singers, and CMC staff.  A CMCer got so sick at his table that the table cloth had to be thrown away. After the event, glass bottles and handles were found under tables. Maintenance workers had to clean up the bathroom while wearing hazmat suits.

Personally, I had a great time at Madrigals last year and didn’t realize any of this was going on.  The description above describes a small minority of the audience, but a visible minority to the Ath staff.  While it’s one thing to have a good time, it’s pretty unbelievable that CMCers can’t even keep it together at a formal holiday dinner with alumni, faculty and staff.

That said, I don’t think students are entirely to blame for this. After all, I doubt incoming CMCers have changed that dramatically over the past 26 years — we didn’t come here as raging, disrespectful alcoholics. More likely, the controls that had been in place — the formality of actual Madrigal events and the self-policing by students that came along with it — left with the Scripps Choir. What is needed, then, (and what was attempted this year) is a joint effort by the students and the Athenaeum to bring Madrigals back and to maintain it as an annual tradition, before it escapes college memory:

  • Make it clear to the students from the outset, as Brad did in 2008, that this isn’t another TNC. It requires the decency, if not more, that other Ath events receive.
  • Then, at the event itself, just don’t let in students who can barely stand up and kick out those who are being disruptive. As we have seen this is a case where a few people can ruin it for everyone.
  • Get a real madrigals choir to perform. In October, when ASCMC heard the Athenaeum actually canceled Madrigals this year, we offered to find outside groups to perform a real madrigal concert (we set aside $7,500 last spring for this purpose).  Willing to listen, David Edwards asked us to get some options ready.  We did, but by the time we did (two weeks later), he told us it was too late.
  • Hold the Athenaeum responsible for hosting the event.  An issue was the Athenaeum made absolutely no effort to find an outside group.  When I asked Bonnie Snortum why the Ath didn’t try to find a group to keep the tradition alive, she told me they “aren’t really set up for that.”  But isn’t that what the Athenaum does — find outside speakers and performers to come to CMC? Her suggestion was that students should be responsible for that. No, the students are here to learn. That’s why our families are paying $50k+ to employ people like the Athenaeum staff, Dean of Students office, etc. to take care of student life and extracurricular matters. ASCMC plans parties*, and the Ath has made it clear Madrigals isn’t one. For more than two decades, it had been planned and executed in no small part by their staff, and it’s unfair to students to drop that responsibility now. If we’re willing to step up, so should they.

___________
*ASCMC does not just plan parties, of course. It does much, much more, but if the Ath wants us to take Madrigals as seriously as a regular Ath event, maybe they should as well.

About the Author

In late 2007, Josh started the website CMCForum.com. It has since grown into this fine publication today. He is a senior at CMC and is not looking forward to graduating, after which he will move back to NYC and take over.

  • Andy Fastow

    I worked Madrigals as a freshman (2006) and I remembered it being fun for the debauchery, which alcohol always brings with it. Although a few tables were a little crazy (we had two football tables one night…one of them broke a chair and we found cans of coors light under the table), for the most part everyone was under control but very friendly.

    Traditions like the kissing fruit…I love that. But it wouldn’t be the same if people weren’t socially lubricated with a couple drinks.

    I think the key is emphasizing that while this is a “merry” event, it shouldn’t be confused with “that night you and your friend killed a fifth”.

    What if we paid a student or two to do security, with the authority to throw people out if they were too drunk or being too loud?

  • Andy Fastow

    I worked Madrigals as a freshman (2006) and I remembered it being fun for the debauchery, which alcohol always brings with it. Although a few tables were a little crazy (we had two football tables one night…one of them broke a chair and we found cans of coors light under the table), for the most part everyone was under control but very friendly.

    Traditions like the kissing fruit…I love that. But it wouldn’t be the same if people weren’t socially lubricated with a couple drinks.

    I think the key is emphasizing that while this is a “merry” event, it shouldn’t be confused with “that night you and your friend killed a fifth”.

    What if we paid a student or two to do security, with the authority to throw people out if they were too drunk or being too loud?

  • dissenter

    I, for one, am happy that this “tradition” ended. (If you want a school with more “traditions,” why don’t you go to Pomona!) The music was terrible, and some students–even despite warnings–were just too entitled to not treat it like another TNC.

    As for student groups, the ath likely put a lot of planning into the event anyway with food, logistics, etc., so it’s reasonable to ask ASCMC to help out in what was a huge undertaking.

    • Josh Siegel

      ASCMC did help out, and would be willing to help out more, but we aren’t full time employees with a mandate to bring speakers and performers to campus. The point is more that it shouldn’t be the students’ burden to fight to make sure the event happens every year.

  • dissenter

    I, for one, am happy that this “tradition” ended. (If you want a school with more “traditions,” why don’t you go to Pomona!) The music was terrible, and some students–even despite warnings–were just too entitled to not treat it like another TNC.

    As for student groups, the ath likely put a lot of planning into the event anyway with food, logistics, etc., so it’s reasonable to ask ASCMC to help out in what was a huge undertaking.

    • Josh Siegel

      ASCMC did help out, and would be willing to help out more, but we aren’t full time employees with a mandate to bring speakers and performers to campus. The point is more that it shouldn’t be the students’ burden to fight to make sure the event happens every year.

  • Claremont Confessions!!!!!!

    What student security is going to actually throw out another student?

  • Claremont Confessions!!!!!!

    What student security is going to actually throw out another student?

  • ex-ath server

    I served at Madrigals last year. It was tons of fun until some kid puked in his plate. Thursday was completely out of control.
    However, I am disappointed that it wont be happening this year. The kissing fruit and holiday dinner tradition are a sad thing to lose, especially (to echo the point above) for a school with so few traditions.

  • ex-ath server

    I served at Madrigals last year. It was tons of fun until some kid puked in his plate. Thursday was completely out of control.
    However, I am disappointed that it wont be happening this year. The kissing fruit and holiday dinner tradition are a sad thing to lose, especially (to echo the point above) for a school with so few traditions.

  • Arielle Z

    “In addition, Dean Debra Woods at Scripps College, who was in attendance that year, wrote a letter to President Gann complaining about the drinking she saw at the event.”

    Why am I not surprised? D Woods needs to step off.

    • http://claremontconservative.com Charles C. Johnson

      She needs to be fired.

  • Arielle Z

    “In addition, Dean Debra Woods at Scripps College, who was in attendance that year, wrote a letter to President Gann complaining about the drinking she saw at the event.”

    Why am I not surprised? D Woods needs to step off.

    • http://claremontconservative.com Charles C. Johnson

      She needs to be fired.

  • CMCer

    Ah….more CMCers that can’t stay classy at what could be a fun and classy event? WHY am I not surprised in the least?

  • CMCer

    Ah….more CMCers that can’t stay classy at what could be a fun and classy event? WHY am I not surprised in the least?

  • CMCer

    And to dispel any insults–sure, I drank a little before, and what they had there as well. But to the people that were blacked out/shitfaced…you have a problem of the alcoholic variety when you take “a merry event” to mean “get blackout drunk”. Seriously.

  • CMCer

    And to dispel any insults–sure, I drank a little before, and what they had there as well. But to the people that were blacked out/shitfaced…you have a problem of the alcoholic variety when you take “a merry event” to mean “get blackout drunk”. Seriously.

  • Alumnus, ’07

    To “dissenter” (I don’t believe you are a real CMCer) re: “If you want a school with more “traditions,” why don’t you go to Pomona!”

    Why don’t I stop donating to CMC? Oh right, that’s what happens when schools let their traditions die. My connection with CMC and the Ath dies.

    How is the alumni office not all over this? Do they just hope that we won’t find out the school we once loved has changed so much it’s only barely recognizable now? Do they think I won’t ask the freshman girl who calls me every year asking for money about this? That the next time Faranda comes up to me at an alumni event, I won’t complain about this? It’s absurd.

    Back to the real world… (never graduate, kids)

    • get some

      alumnus, ftw.

      it’s probably worth mentioning that madrigals was the kind of tradition alumni could be proud of and could talk to current students about. I’m pretty sure ponding, post-thesis champagne, and TNC aren’t exactly the most appropriate small talk at alum events. I guess, though, as Alumnus ’07 put it, alums will now have something to talk about — that is, something to complain about.

  • Alumnus, ’07

    To “dissenter” (I don’t believe you are a real CMCer) re: “If you want a school with more “traditions,” why don’t you go to Pomona!”

    Why don’t I stop donating to CMC? Oh right, that’s what happens when schools let their traditions die. My connection with CMC and the Ath dies.

    How is the alumni office not all over this? Do they just hope that we won’t find out the school we once loved has changed so much it’s only barely recognizable now? Do they think I won’t ask the freshman girl who calls me every year asking for money about this? That the next time Faranda comes up to me at an alumni event, I won’t complain about this? It’s absurd.

    Back to the real world… (never graduate, kids)

    • get some

      alumnus, ftw.

      it’s probably worth mentioning that madrigals was the kind of tradition alumni could be proud of and could talk to current students about. I’m pretty sure ponding, post-thesis champagne, and TNC aren’t exactly the most appropriate small talk at alum events. I guess, though, as Alumnus ’07 put it, alums will now have something to talk about — that is, something to complain about.

  • Vicki

    as a proud CMC alumni (’05) I am very disappointed in the last comment. Bonnie and Dave have worked extremely hard over the years to put together a world class program and should be given respect for what they have achieved. I believe their job is to find speakers – not to aid in the debauchery which many of us enjoyed at CMC. The Ath in itself is a CMC tradition that Alumni can participate in and be proud of. While I am disappointed in the fact that this tradition has ended at least temporarily, i don’t think alienating the Ath staff and it’s wonderful managers is the solution.

  • Vicki

    as a proud CMC alumni (’05) I am very disappointed in the last comment. Bonnie and Dave have worked extremely hard over the years to put together a world class program and should be given respect for what they have achieved. I believe their job is to find speakers – not to aid in the debauchery which many of us enjoyed at CMC. The Ath in itself is a CMC tradition that Alumni can participate in and be proud of. While I am disappointed in the fact that this tradition has ended at least temporarily, i don’t think alienating the Ath staff and it’s wonderful managers is the solution.

  • Flock of Siegels

    “I had a great time at Madrigals last year and didn’t realize any of this was going on”

    Pfft! Yeah right!

    • Josh

      ok ok, i was referring to the table vomiter and hazmat suits needed to clean the bathrooms up. i only heard those details recently.

      • CMCer

        “If we’re willing to step up, so should they”. Seriously? Actions and words, my friend. CMC students dropped the ball HARD last year. And by that I mean, the many black out drunk people and the guy wandering between tables obnoxiously annoying. Why should the Ath believe that we’d step up at all this year? When have CMC students EVER stepped up when it came to drinking lightly with friends, and not just downing every beer in sight?

  • Flock of Siegels

    “I had a great time at Madrigals last year and didn’t realize any of this was going on”

    Pfft! Yeah right!

    • Josh

      ok ok, i was referring to the table vomiter and hazmat suits needed to clean the bathrooms up. i only heard those details recently.

      • CMCer

        “If we’re willing to step up, so should they”. Seriously? Actions and words, my friend. CMC students dropped the ball HARD last year. And by that I mean, the many black out drunk people and the guy wandering between tables obnoxiously annoying. Why should the Ath believe that we’d step up at all this year? When have CMC students EVER stepped up when it came to drinking lightly with friends, and not just downing every beer in sight?

  • Maggie

    This article misses the target in a huge way by complaining the the issues with Madrigals arrived when the real music left. The issues with Madrigals arrive with the drunken and disrespectiful students who show up year after year with no sense of decency. I’m a proud CMC grad, but stop pretending that everyone would act properly at Madrigals “if only” the right performers were there. Madrigals is one of the few times where our students get to interact not ONLY with faculty and alumni but also the larger Claremont community, and every year students can’t control themselves for a mere three hours. If students really want Madrigals back, they should learn that not everything demands a pre-game.

    • Josh Siegel

      I think the Athenaeum and CMC’s administration miss the target by seeing problems like this with students as endemic, long-lasting, and uncontrollable. It’s a mistake that shows how disconnected some are by grouping and characterizing 1,211 students with phrases like “they should learn.” That’s the kind of statement you make when taking away a five year old’s toys if he can’t learn to play nicely with them.

      You can’t expect to teach 1,211 students a lesson by ending a school tradition that most of them have never even seen in its full form. Institutional memory is very short at CMC, where 50% of the student body either enters or leaves every year.

      Someone told me today they thought this article came off sounding like students think they have a “right” to madrigals and that it’s not a privilege that can be taken away. School policy and rules can be changed at any time. I think we all know that students don’t have many “rights” at CMC beyond what is constitutionally protected. But when you start taking away privileges like Madrigals, the school loses more than it gains.

      • http://claremontconservative.com Charles C. Johnson

        Well said, Josh.

        I find the attitude of Ms. Snortum to be more than a tad bit insulting, but then again, she has always seemed more intent to be czarina of the Ath rather than out for making the Ath the forum it is supposed to be. You raise an important point: why must all of us pay the cost of a few ne’er-do-wells?

        How about having CMC students run security? I would happily throw out students who imbibed a bit too much before coming to Madrigals.

      • CMCer

        True, but to play the Devil’s advocate, when half the students there are acting like five year olds…chants of Puck Fomona during the Madrigals, anyone? Real levels of maturity.

  • Maggie

    This article misses the target in a huge way by complaining the the issues with Madrigals arrived when the real music left. The issues with Madrigals arrive with the drunken and disrespectiful students who show up year after year with no sense of decency. I’m a proud CMC grad, but stop pretending that everyone would act properly at Madrigals “if only” the right performers were there. Madrigals is one of the few times where our students get to interact not ONLY with faculty and alumni but also the larger Claremont community, and every year students can’t control themselves for a mere three hours. If students really want Madrigals back, they should learn that not everything demands a pre-game.

    • Josh Siegel

      I think the Athenaeum and CMC’s administration miss the target by seeing problems like this with students as endemic, long-lasting, and uncontrollable. It’s a mistake that shows how disconnected some are by grouping and characterizing 1,211 students with phrases like “they should learn.” That’s the kind of statement you make when taking away a five year old’s toys if he can’t learn to play nicely with them.

      You can’t expect to teach 1,211 students a lesson by ending a school tradition that most of them have never even seen in its full form. Institutional memory is very short at CMC, where 50% of the student body either enters or leaves every year.

      Someone told me today they thought this article came off sounding like students think they have a “right” to madrigals and that it’s not a privilege that can be taken away. School policy and rules can be changed at any time. I think we all know that students don’t have many “rights” at CMC beyond what is constitutionally protected. But when you start taking away privileges like Madrigals, the school loses more than it gains.

      • http://claremontconservative.com Charles C. Johnson

        Well said, Josh.

        I find the attitude of Ms. Snortum to be more than a tad bit insulting, but then again, she has always seemed more intent to be czarina of the Ath rather than out for making the Ath the forum it is supposed to be. You raise an important point: why must all of us pay the cost of a few ne’er-do-wells?

        How about having CMC students run security? I would happily throw out students who imbibed a bit too much before coming to Madrigals.

      • CMCer

        True, but to play the Devil’s advocate, when half the students there are acting like five year olds…chants of Puck Fomona during the Madrigals, anyone? Real levels of maturity.

  • busy thesis-writing madrigal-l

    This makes me really sad. I absolutely loved this event. And I love wassail.

    During my sophomore year, my embarrassed CMC friend walked over to the largely-Pomona choir to thank them for entertaining us during loud, raucous cheers of “PUCK FOMONA!” I remember seeing oddly large purses and hearing the classic *clink!* of bottles within large purses. But I was too busy laughing at who was sending kissing fruit around to really notice… eugh, I can only imagine what that bathroom looked like before the maintenance staff was called in… and drinking wassail… ahhh, I love the holidays!

    Now here’s the selfish part. I really do care about Madrigals in future years, I do. but unless there’s any efforts we can make that would result in a Madrigal festivity happening this year… I’m going to get back to that first draft of thesis.

  • busy thesis-writing madrigal-loving senior

    This makes me really sad. I absolutely loved this event. And I love wassail.

    During my sophomore year, my embarrassed CMC friend walked over to the largely-Pomona choir to thank them for entertaining us during loud, raucous cheers of “PUCK FOMONA!” I remember seeing oddly large purses and hearing the classic *clink!* of bottles within large purses. But I was too busy laughing at who was sending kissing fruit around to really notice… eugh, I can only imagine what that bathroom looked like before the maintenance staff was called in… and drinking wassail… ahhh, I love the holidays!

    Now here’s the selfish part. I really do care about Madrigals in future years, I do. but unless there’s any efforts we can make that would result in a Madrigal festivity happening this year… I’m going to get back to that first draft of thesis.

  • Erin Franks

    As a sophomore, I can only say that I am heartbroken to see the Madrigals go. I worked both nights at the Ath last year, and I can tell you that the amount of disgusting, filthy messes that were left on the tables for us to clean up were frankly horrifying. It took hours of time and I’m pretty sure I complained the whole way. I never looked in the bathroom, and I am deeply sorry for whoever had to deal with it.

    That said, Friday night especially stands out to me as one of the highlights of my semester as far as CMC events go. The tables I was serving were full of completely drunk football players, but not a one of them was rude or more messy than could be expected, and I had no problem cleaning up if I felt like I helped some fellow CMCers really enjoy their night. Everyone I was around was happy and excited to be there, and the whole event was much more inclusive and positive than any concert or party I’ve ever been to on campus.

    And to be fair, while the majority of the problems were caused by students, I personally guided some 60-year-old-plus women to their chairs who could not even walk straight. I’m not disparaging the Claremont faculty, but I do think that not all the blame can be placed on students when “responsible adults” are engaged in much of the same behavior.

    I only hope that something can be done to bring the madrigals back, preferably before I graduate. I, for one, would volunteer not only to work security, but also to clean things up after if I thought it would help. Despite their failings, I think that CMC students CAN be responsible and control themselves if they really must, and the few that can’t have deeper problems that cancelling school traditions will not solve.

  • Erin Franks

    As a sophomore, I can only say that I am heartbroken to see the Madrigals go. I worked both nights at the Ath last year, and I can tell you that the amount of disgusting, filthy messes that were left on the tables for us to clean up were frankly horrifying. It took hours of time and I’m pretty sure I complained the whole way. I never looked in the bathroom, and I am deeply sorry for whoever had to deal with it.

    That said, Friday night especially stands out to me as one of the highlights of my semester as far as CMC events go. The tables I was serving were full of completely drunk football players, but not a one of them was rude or more messy than could be expected, and I had no problem cleaning up if I felt like I helped some fellow CMCers really enjoy their night. Everyone I was around was happy and excited to be there, and the whole event was much more inclusive and positive than any concert or party I’ve ever been to on campus.

    And to be fair, while the majority of the problems were caused by students, I personally guided some 60-year-old-plus women to their chairs who could not even walk straight. I’m not disparaging the Claremont faculty, but I do think that not all the blame can be placed on students when “responsible adults” are engaged in much of the same behavior.

    I only hope that something can be done to bring the madrigals back, preferably before I graduate. I, for one, would volunteer not only to work security, but also to clean things up after if I thought it would help. Despite their failings, I think that CMC students CAN be responsible and control themselves if they really must, and the few that can’t have deeper problems that cancelling school traditions will not solve.

  • Blame Bonnie Snortum + Ath Fel

    She thinks she’s the curator of a prestigious museum or something. Anything but the most cultured discussion of fine literature and art should not be allowed in the Athenaeum in her opinion.

    Who is even in charge of the Athenaeum at a more senior level? From what I hear, Bonnie has complete control over everything from the speakers lineup to the food served. Is there no check to her power?

    And it’s clear that ASCMC tried to keep Madrigals alive, but what about the Ath Fellows? Aren’t they the student ambassadors to the Athenaeum? How the hell did they let this happen?

  • Blame Bonnie Snortum + Ath Fellows

    She thinks she’s the curator of a prestigious museum or something. Anything but the most cultured discussion of fine literature and art should not be allowed in the Athenaeum in her opinion.

    Who is even in charge of the Athenaeum at a more senior level? From what I hear, Bonnie has complete control over everything from the speakers lineup to the food served. Is there no check to her power?

    And it’s clear that ASCMC tried to keep Madrigals alive, but what about the Ath Fellows? Aren’t they the student ambassadors to the Athenaeum? How the hell did they let this happen?

  • Well…

    As an alumnus who worked at Mad Feast, I can tell you this:

    When I worked there, the mess after every Mad Feast was unbelievable. So much food and drink was spilled that the Ath had to spend a fortune cleaning it all up. That’s why it was the last even of the semester, so that they would have plenty of time to get the Ath back in working order.

    Even when it ran smoothly, Mad Feast was really expensive. That’s money that could otherwise be used for speakers and other dinners. After the choirs director from Scripps backed out, I think they just decided that it wasn’t worth spending thousands of dollars on an event where students did nothing by get drunk and spill food.

    I would have to guess that the choir was pretty sick of it by the end, too. I remember one of the students who used to sing in the choir told me that she hated the nights students that came, because they had spent months preparing music and nobody listened.

  • Well…

    As an alumnus who worked at Mad Feast, I can tell you this:

    When I worked there, the mess after every Mad Feast was unbelievable. So much food and drink was spilled that the Ath had to spend a fortune cleaning it all up. That’s why it was the last even of the semester, so that they would have plenty of time to get the Ath back in working order.

    Even when it ran smoothly, Mad Feast was really expensive. That’s money that could otherwise be used for speakers and other dinners. After the choirs director from Scripps backed out, I think they just decided that it wasn’t worth spending thousands of dollars on an event where students did nothing by get drunk and spill food.

    I would have to guess that the choir was pretty sick of it by the end, too. I remember one of the students who used to sing in the choir told me that she hated the nights students that came, because they had spent months preparing music and nobody listened.

  • Brad Walters

    There’s plenty of blame to go around for the absence of Madrigal, but the maligning of Bonnie needs to stop. Have any of you ever sat down and talked with her about Madrigal and why it was canceled? She is not the esteem-driven authoritarian you make her out to be.

    Having worked at and managed the Ath for decades, Bonnie expects it to receive a basic level of respect. She has not seen that for many years now. To her credit, she dealt with it for many years, until the Chamber Choir pulled out. At that point, she had a Madrigal dinner without the element that makes it a Madrigal,: a chamber choir. It didn’t help that the event invites disrespectful behavior from its guests. Despite these disincentives, she worked closely with ASCMC, listening respectfully to our thoughts, heeding them, and eventually reinstating the program. Not exactly the domineering dictator several of you suggest.

    CMCers blew it. Not all of them, and it wasn’t just the students. Several faculty members should be ashamed of themselves for the behavior they have exhibited and allowed. Bonnie, meanwhile, has been nothing but accommodating and gracious, assuming, of course, that those who approach her demonstrate the same respect she affords them.

    Direct your anger toward the proper channels, and show respect for a woman who has devoted decades of her life to this College and its students.

    • CMCer

      Hear, Hear!

  • Brad Walters

    There’s plenty of blame to go around for the absence of Madrigal, but the maligning of Bonnie needs to stop. Have any of you ever sat down and talked with her about Madrigal and why it was canceled? She is not the esteem-driven authoritarian you make her out to be.

    Having worked at and managed the Ath for decades, Bonnie expects it to receive a basic level of respect. She has not seen that for many years now. To her credit, she dealt with it for many years, until the Chamber Choir pulled out. At that point, she had a Madrigal dinner without the element that makes it a Madrigal,: a chamber choir. It didn’t help that the event invites disrespectful behavior from its guests. Despite these disincentives, she worked closely with ASCMC, listening respectfully to our thoughts, heeding them, and eventually reinstating the program. Not exactly the domineering dictator several of you suggest.

    CMCers blew it. Not all of them, and it wasn’t just the students. Several faculty members should be ashamed of themselves for the behavior they have exhibited and allowed. Bonnie, meanwhile, has been nothing but accommodating and gracious, assuming, of course, that those who approach her demonstrate the same respect she affords them.

    Direct your anger toward the proper channels, and show respect for a woman who has devoted decades of her life to this College and its students.

    • CMCer

      Hear, Hear!

  • sad

    Is there nothing we can do about this year?

  • sad

    Is there nothing we can do about this year?

  • Kyle Ragins

    I remember fighting hard to keep this alive and even at one point going to ASCMC to make a Madrigal Club solely dedicated to putting on this event and advocating for its continuation. At the time, Brad Walters worked really hard with the Ath staff to come to an agreement and keep it alive. And I was told no club was needed.

    I am disappointed that current students have not stepped up to the plate and filled the shoes of dedicated alumni like Brad Walters who wouldn’t let the school take away our hallowed traditions. While the Ath is lame about this (and always will be) it is up to the students to keep them in check and you guys clearly failed. I don’t see facebook petitions for it or call campaigns or anything. WTF guys?

    Also, I remember last year after Madrigal, going up very politely to Bonnie Snortum and Dave Edwards and saying “thank you so much for having this event.” And instead of saying you’re welcome, or anything normal or respectful to a grateful student. Bonnie said, “Never again!” And I just said, “I hope that’s not true,” and walked off.

    That woman needs to be put in check to realize her job is to serve the students needs/wants, not to push her own agenda of convenience.

    • Yes and no

      Yes, Bonnie is completely out of touch with the student body and really embodies the persona of someone who lives up in her ivory tower. She does a good job doing the basics of her job but stuff like the lack of Madrigals and online ath speaker video accessibility is unacceptable.

      No, this can’t be blamed on the students. It’s unfair to students that they have to fight every single year to keep a tradition alive. The ath could easily make changes to the program or put checks in place rather than canceling it in its entirety.

      I hope the school isn’t surprised when the senior class gift rate drops far below 100% this year.

      • Charles C. Johnson

        I tried to disagree with Ms. Snortum on this videotaping policy, and she lied about our conversation publicly. (Fortunately I had emails contradicting her from her.)

        She has no right whatsoever to restrict audio, of course.

    • CMCer

      Brad Walters just owned you, Ragins. Wear it.

  • Kyle Ragins

    I remember fighting hard to keep this alive and even at one point going to ASCMC to make a Madrigal Club solely dedicated to putting on this event and advocating for its continuation. At the time, Brad Walters worked really hard with the Ath staff to come to an agreement and keep it alive. And I was told no club was needed.

    I am disappointed that current students have not stepped up to the plate and filled the shoes of dedicated alumni like Brad Walters who wouldn’t let the school take away our hallowed traditions. While the Ath is lame about this (and always will be) it is up to the students to keep them in check and you guys clearly failed. I don’t see facebook petitions for it or call campaigns or anything. WTF guys?

    Also, I remember last year after Madrigal, going up very politely to Bonnie Snortum and Dave Edwards and saying “thank you so much for having this event.” And instead of saying you’re welcome, or anything normal or respectful to a grateful student. Bonnie said, “Never again!” And I just said, “I hope that’s not true,” and walked off.

    That woman needs to be put in check to realize her job is to serve the students needs/wants, not to push her own agenda of convenience.

    • Yes and no

      Yes, Bonnie is completely out of touch with the student body and really embodies the persona of someone who lives up in her ivory tower. She does a good job doing the basics of her job but stuff like the lack of Madrigals and online ath speaker video accessibility is unacceptable.

      No, this can’t be blamed on the students. It’s unfair to students that they have to fight every single year to keep a tradition alive. The ath could easily make changes to the program or put checks in place rather than canceling it in its entirety.

      I hope the school isn’t surprised when the senior class gift rate drops far below 100% this year.

      • Charles C. Johnson

        I tried to disagree with Ms. Snortum on this videotaping policy, and she lied about our conversation publicly. (Fortunately I had emails contradicting her from her.)

        She has no right whatsoever to restrict audio, of course.

    • CMCer

      Brad Walters just owned you, Ragins. Wear it.

  • Regarding “other options”

    While I have no real opinion on whether or not Madrigals should have been canceled, I can personally attest that ASCMC only contacted a capella groups about singing in Madrigals a few weeks ago, by which time even my group had already chosen its repertoire and was invested in other projects.

    If that was ASCMC’s idea of a real look at “other options”, it was, in my opinion, hasty, much too late, and ill-conceived. Should we want to bring back this event next year, perhaps a little advance planning would be in order?

    • Josh Siegel

      The underlying issue is that we had no idea Bonnie was actually canceling Madrigals until a few weeks ago. We had heard rumors, but the Athenaeum isn’t really ASCMC’s realm and it wasn’t mentioned at all in the Athenaeum Advisory Committee meeting last month. In fact, Dean Huang says he didn’t even know Madrigals were canceled until a few days ago. To quote Bonnie from a conversation the other day regarding who runs the Athenaeum, “I am the Director. The buck stops here.”

      Again, the burden to do a “little advance planning” for an Athenaeum event for students, faculty, and the community should be on the employees of the college (Bonnie or even the Ath Fellows). But sure, if for whatever reason it was ASCMC’s responsibility, it would have been nice to know that.

      The bottom line is the Athenaeum staff should have looked at options many months ago, but they didn’t do it because they didn’t want there to be a Madrigals dinner at all. The real issue was the alcohol and the cleanup and preparation* required by the Ath.

      *I worked as a server at the Thursday night Madrigals Dinner my sophomore year and had a blast. It was by far the most fun I’ve ever had working at the Ath, even with the cleanup. I think most Ath workers would say the same thing.

  • Regarding “other options”

    While I have no real opinion on whether or not Madrigals should have been canceled, I can personally attest that ASCMC only contacted a capella groups about singing in Madrigals a few weeks ago, by which time even my group had already chosen its repertoire and was invested in other projects.

    If that was ASCMC’s idea of a real look at “other options”, it was, in my opinion, hasty, much too late, and ill-conceived. Should we want to bring back this event next year, perhaps a little advance planning would be in order?

    • Josh Siegel

      The underlying issue is that we had no idea Bonnie was actually canceling Madrigals until a few weeks ago. We had heard rumors, but the Athenaeum isn’t really ASCMC’s realm and it wasn’t mentioned at all in the Athenaeum Advisory Committee meeting last month. In fact, Dean Huang says he didn’t even know Madrigals were canceled until a few days ago. To quote Bonnie from a conversation the other day regarding who runs the Athenaeum, “I am the Director. The buck stops here.”

      Again, the burden to do a “little advance planning” for an Athenaeum event for students, faculty, and the community should be on the employees of the college (Bonnie or even the Ath Fellows). But sure, if for whatever reason it was ASCMC’s responsibility, it would have been nice to know that.

      The bottom line is the Athenaeum staff should have looked at options many months ago, but they didn’t do it because they didn’t want there to be a Madrigals dinner at all. The real issue was the alcohol and the cleanup and preparation* required by the Ath.

      *I worked as a server at the Thursday night Madrigals Dinner my sophomore year and had a blast. It was by far the most fun I’ve ever had working at the Ath, even with the cleanup. I think most Ath workers would say the same thing.

  • Make you work work

    I worked both nights last year and had a blast. Serving is stressful, people are rude, clean up is slow – such is the life of a waiter (wench?)

    get over it.

    It wasn’t that bad and most of us had a great time. And, there was a boatrace after we were done cleaning with everyone: the dishwashers, MD, and servers joined in. We weren’t downtrodden or (outrageously) over worked, so don’t pity us – we gotz PAID and we gotz beer and I got hella kissing fruit so shut it.

  • Make you work work

    I worked both nights last year and had a blast. Serving is stressful, people are rude, clean up is slow – such is the life of a waiter (wench?)

    get over it.

    It wasn’t that bad and most of us had a great time. And, there was a boatrace after we were done cleaning with everyone: the dishwashers, MD, and servers joined in. We weren’t downtrodden or (outrageously) over worked, so don’t pity us – we gotz PAID and we gotz beer and I got hella kissing fruit so shut it.

  • False!!

    Just so you are aware.

    Madrigals had been on the verge of being eliminated for some time now. Why wasn’t it till now? One the alumni did help keep it alive and two David and Bonnie kept hopes that CMCers would change. What finally killed it was that every year there was that one night where the majority of students there showed up drunk and out of control. So, maybe this year serves as an example and they’ll bring it back next year with expectations that we have learned our lesson.

    • RTFC

      seriously? i think it was said best here:

      “I think the Athenaeum and CMC’s administration miss the target by seeing problems like this with students as endemic, long-lasting, and uncontrollable. It’s a mistake that shows how disconnected some are by grouping and characterizing 1,211 students with phrases like “they should learn.” That’s the kind of statement you make when taking away a five year old’s toys if he can’t learn to play nicely with them.

      You can’t expect to teach 1,211 students a lesson by ending a school tradition that most of them have never even seen in its full form. Institutional memory is very short at CMC, where 50% of the student body either enters or leaves every year.”

  • False!!

    Just so you are aware.

    Madrigals had been on the verge of being eliminated for some time now. Why wasn’t it till now? One the alumni did help keep it alive and two David and Bonnie kept hopes that CMCers would change. What finally killed it was that every year there was that one night where the majority of students there showed up drunk and out of control. So, maybe this year serves as an example and they’ll bring it back next year with expectations that we have learned our lesson.

    • RTFC

      seriously? i think it was said best here:

      “I think the Athenaeum and CMC’s administration miss the target by seeing problems like this with students as endemic, long-lasting, and uncontrollable. It’s a mistake that shows how disconnected some are by grouping and characterizing 1,211 students with phrases like “they should learn.” That’s the kind of statement you make when taking away a five year old’s toys if he can’t learn to play nicely with them.

      You can’t expect to teach 1,211 students a lesson by ending a school tradition that most of them have never even seen in its full form. Institutional memory is very short at CMC, where 50% of the student body either enters or leaves every year.”

  • CMCer’06

    I went to Madrigals every year at CMC and remember it being one of the best and unique parties our school had. The vomiting and rudeness to staff are clearly unacceptable, but, as the article notes, cancelling one of the school’s only defining traditions??

    Bring it back but adopt a clear “one warning and you’re out” policy for the first two years. Heck, in the absolute extreme, maybe force ASCMC to put a deposit down ( the cost of a future party), and if the admin decides it went out of hand the students forfeit the deposit.

    Also, if DoS people are reading this, as an alumnus, seeing these types of traditions and privileges taken away from the students makes me identify less with the school and feel like the administration has lost perspective; such impressions make me much less inclined to donate. If I get called this year I will donate, but I might put the condition that my money can only be used for Madrigals activities…

  • CMCer’06

    I went to Madrigals every year at CMC and remember it being one of the best and unique parties our school had. The vomiting and rudeness to staff are clearly unacceptable, but, as the article notes, cancelling one of the school’s only defining traditions??

    Bring it back but adopt a clear “one warning and you’re out” policy for the first two years. Heck, in the absolute extreme, maybe force ASCMC to put a deposit down ( the cost of a future party), and if the admin decides it went out of hand the students forfeit the deposit.

    Also, if DoS people are reading this, as an alumnus, seeing these types of traditions and privileges taken away from the students makes me identify less with the school and feel like the administration has lost perspective; such impressions make me much less inclined to donate. If I get called this year I will donate, but I might put the condition that my money can only be used for Madrigals activities…

  • CMCer’06

    (Yeah, a little late, a buddy just told me about this…)

  • CMCer’06

    (Yeah, a little late, a buddy just told me about this…)

  • A CI Follow up

    The CI publishes an article about this a few months later: On Madrigals

  • A CI Follow up

    The CI publishes an article about this a few months later: On Madrigals