Making a Case for Community

As a student of Gustavus Adolphus College, it was hard not to notice the increased energy throughout the campus last weekend.

Whether it was the abnormal winter heat wave, the variety of athletic events happening throughout the day, or the fact that a few students were attempting to drink an entire case of beer, there was undoubtedly something different in the air.

As I drove up College Avenue in the early afternoon with the windows down, the campus seemed more alive than I have ever seen it. People were outside throwing frisbees, making food, and enjoying the company of their classmates.

Although I am not endorsing the idea of Case Day, I think the question must be asked: why is there so much hype surrounding it and why aren’t there more days like this that don’t revolve around the consumption of a dangerous quantity of alcohol?

In 2014, Gustavus’ satirical newspaper, the Fourth Crown, wrote an article on Case Day in which they said, “this Saturday marks the annual Case Day, an unofficial campus holiday in which a handful of students attempt to drink 24 beers in 24 hours.

While the tradition has been described as ‘everything that is wrong with the collegiate world,’ it annually returns to the fore of Gustavus’ collective consciousness.”

The main point of the Fourth Crown article was that students should absolutely not participate in Case Day, and I am not going to disagree with them on that point.

Any health professional would say that drinking 24 beers in 24 hours is a terrible idea, and I’m sure this is very close to the last thing the administration of the college wants as an “annual holiday.”

Yet, as the Fourth Crown accurately stated, it returns to the collective conscience of the student body every year with plenty of anticipation and hype.

I think the question we as a student body must be asking ourselves is, “why can’t we be this enthusiastic all the time without a drinking a whole case of beer?” The only answer I can think of is that there’s no reason we can’t, and no reason we shouldn’t.

There is no doubt there was a strong sense of community throughout the campus on Saturday and I don’t think that should be a “one day a year” feeling.

The sporting events were well-attended across the board, people were friendly in the caf, and there was a general sense of deeper integration throughout the campus.

I don’t believe people were so active and supportive because they were intoxicated, but instead there was just a atmosphere of unity that everyone could feel.

Obviously, it helped the temperature was 30 degrees above the historical average for Feb. 18, but I see no reason why we can’t replicate this kind of excitement on a more consistent basis and even towards more productive endeavors.

As we can all see, the caf has been decorated with purple for the Relay for Life event and I hope people will get as excited to raise money to fight cancer as they were to drink a case of beers.

Even further, I don’t think it should take a special event for us to feel connected as a campus community and get excited about all of the things that are happening on the Hill.

Gustavus is a community of interesting, talented, passionate, diverse people. We all only have a limited amount of time here and I think we all ought to make the most of it.

If there’s one thing I learned from Case Day, it’s that we, as a community, have great potential to use this same energy to take our peer support, social activism, and community integration to a whole new level.

Gustavus already distinguishes itself as a liberal arts institution that boasts strong academics, meaningful extracurriculars, and excellent arts and athletics programs.

We are a community that prides itself on the core values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith. I suppose this is a call to action to everyone on campus to be reinvigorated by the potential that we have to make a difference in the world. Although it is only my first year here, Gustavus already holds a special place in my heart.

I know it as a place filled with energy and passion and I hope we are never hesitant to let that shine in the most positive and productive ways.