The future of Serendipity at stake


Serendipity could disappear due to its biggest threat — itself.

Over the years, the springtime festival has turned into arguably the biggest student tradition on Guilford College’s campus. The number of write-ups consistently surpasses that of any other weekend of the year with as many as 73 incidents in three days.

Guilford’s Community Senate and the Campus Activities Board met with students and faculty on Sept. 25 in a forum to discuss how to curb the chaos at Serendipity before the college has to take drastic action.

“We understand what (Serendipity) means to students,” said Jennifer Agor, interim dean of students.  “We don’t want to take that away, but in examining the way things have gone the last few years, we may not have a choice if things don’t change.”

Serendipity has gained a reputation as a time when students push their boundaries beyond what they would usually do.  Students who have never consumed drugs or alcohol before may start mixing the two, while others may simply take more of each and put both themselves and others at risk.

“It’s understood that there’s going to be drinking,” said Serendipity chair and sophomore Darion Bayles. “The problem is trying to get it under control.  While it’s okay to have fun, it’s not okay to … drink a bottle of vodka and then drive a car.”

The College hopes to keep Serendipity, but it cannot ignore the issues associated with the annual weekend events.

“If Serendipity goes away, the potential is extraordinarily damaging to what I do,” said Andy Strickler, dean of admission. “But we can’t push the envelope every year (to) someone dying.

“I’ve seen funerals of teenagers.  I’ve been to student funerals.  I’ve been at a college that had a murder-suicide in the residence halls.  It is the worst thing you can imagine.”

The forum considered ideas on how to eliminate the worst risks from Serendipity while keeping the fun and community-building aspects of the events.  Many of the ideas focused on how Guilford students can take on more responsibility, not only for controlling their own actions, but also for preventing others from making bad decisions, such as drunk driving.

“It’s really our job as students to change the culture of it, or there won’t be a Serendipity in the future,” said Khadija Carr, senior and secretary of Community Senate. “It’s less an initiative on the school’s part and more our job as students to make sure that this is a lasting tradition.”

Students and faculty hope that this series of forums will help solve the issues linked with Serendipity.

“This event was just to start the conversation,” said José Oliva, sophomore and Community Senate president. “A lot of people brought a lot of good ideas of things we can do.  You will see more of these coming up.  We don’t know when or how or where, but there will be more.”