My college assignments are done, the shooting part at least. Three schools in eight days. Williams College was a picture-perfect New England campus set in the Berkshires, with whimsy as the dominant ethos of the student culture. Randolph-Macon Woman’s College was a contradictory place, a deeply traditional, Southern social life practised by what seems to be a moderately progressive student body.
My final site was Mt. St. Mary’s University, a small Catholic school. Though this implies a cloistered, reclusive student culture, it’s not the case. "Why did you come here," I asked. Everyone answered that they wanted a small school. Most wanted a less rambunctious environment than a state or secular school. Religion was important, but about 30% of the students aren’t Catholic. A lot wanted to stay close to home. It is the most conservative student body that I have encountered—lots of College Republican stickers, pro-life decorations, Jesus posters. I treated it like a visit to my folks—I love them, we don’t discuss politics.
They’re open, outgoing, normal kids, not fanatical evangelicals. A (very) few of them even wear pajama bottoms (Williams, of course, had the highest pajama bottom index--I think it could be a useful indicator of something) and have pet Siamese betta fish, like all college kids now. They like beer. They’re not afraid of gay people. They put on a play, Bertolt Brecht’s "Antigone", which is about as blatant an anti-war piece as you get. I kept seeing Creon as Donald Rumsfeld and finding nothing in the performance to contradict the impression. I think this college does its job and expands their students’ experience of the world.