Tradition and Community: The CMC Recipe
At CMC, we take pride in our inviting atmosphere and close-knit community. We are definitely the “Happiest College in America”— there is no doubt. It makes me wonder, though: where does this sense of pride and happiness come from? We all know that CMC is annually ranked in the top tier of lists like “Best Career Services,” “Best-Run Colleges,” “Most Accessible Professors,” and “Best Quality of Life.” The list could go on. But what makes CMC great? And while we're at it: What makes any top institution great? I would wager it has a lot to do with tradition. A friend of mine and recent graduate Alex de Avila '13 calls them “rich traditions.” But how do rich traditions start? I would attribute our most recent tradition to both the enthusiasm and creativity of our students, and the arrival of our new president, Hiram Chodosh.
It was a typical Tea at the Ath (another “rich tradition" that, as it turns out, was actually stolen from Scripps and improved by CMC— but that’s another story), a day like any other. I stopped by for some delicious rice krispies and apple juice. While I was talking to faculty from the Dean of Students Office, they informed me that it was our new president’s birthday. With recent pondings fresh in my mind, I joked of “officially welcoming” President Chodosh to CMC. They didn’t disagree. With a few texts, some phone calls, the initiative of ASCMC’s Executive Board, and the enthusiasm of many students, what I hope will be a new tradition was formed.
I did not count, but I would estimate that about a tenth of the student body, maybe more, showed up with only about two hours' notice to Flamson Plaza to witness what would be the first ever ponding of a CMC president (Jack Stark, a former CMC president, was ponded while he was a student but not while he was president). The group waited at the front of the Athenaeum, but unbeknownst to us, Hiram had snuck out the back, leaving us confused and frustrated. We wouldn't let him get off that easily.
In minutes, there was a parade of CMCers headed toward President Chodosh's house. We marched up to his doorstep, failing to surprise him because he could see us coming from a block away. When we arrived, he greeted us at the front where he jokingly said, “I thought you were smart?,” poking at the fact that we should have surrounded the entire building. Nevertheless, we serenaded him with our angelic cover of “Happy Birthday” and then proceeded to carry him from the southwest corner of 8th Street and College Avenue to the Flamson Plaza fountain — each student snapping photos and recording video snippets so they could Snapchat or send the event to friends. One Facebook post by Ted Hall, an attending student, reads,
“Tonight the students of CMC followed our school president to his house, carried him back to campus, and threw him into a pond in order to celebrate his birthday. What did your school do?”
I thought, “EXACTLY!” In my mind, this post summed up exactly the kind of pride that CMC students take in their school — that I take in this school — that comes from our closeness, our reliability, and our rich traditions. Ponding our president surely wasn’t something that has any bearing on the world at large, but it is important here in our world. Most importantly, I think it speaks volumes to the type of students we are at CMC as well as to the fun-loving, dedicated, enthusiastic types of people that make up our faculty and staff.
CMC is the “Happiest College in America,” in addition to every other ranking it holds, to some degree because of its rich traditions. But what makes rich traditions particularly relevant here, and what differentiates us from the 200-year-old Ivies? The difference is made by our extraordinary community -- not the traditions alone, but the people who cherish them. Our students, our alumni, our staff, and our faculty, who invest their time, energy, and lives into CMC, bring tradition into our lives. We are all responsible for making this an excellent institution, for which I am so grateful. President Chodosh's ponding wasn’t only a turning point in CMC history, but also a reminder. Long live CMC. Long live rich traditions in thriving communities.
Photo featured with this article on home page taken by Remy Guercio