Serendipity: why only once a year?

Student+safety+is+a+main+concern+for+everyone+during+Serendipity.+However%2C+should+the+school+sponsor+more+outlets+throughout+the+year%2C+students+may+not+feel+the+need+to+behave+as+recklessly.

Fernando Jimenez/Guilfordian

Student safety is a main concern for everyone during Serendipity. However, should the school sponsor more outlets throughout the year, students may not feel the need to behave as recklessly.

Once highlighted by a continental breakfast and faculty-student bike relays, Serendipity now includes color-throwing mayhem and the occasional fire truck.

The established spring celebration brings students together for a once-a-year weekend of wild fun. Should this happen more often? The strength of community at Guilford College has come into question recently with the athlete and non-athlete divide as well as low attendance for on-campus events.

I wanted to find out what makes Serendipity special.

What does Serendipity mean to Guilford College?

Tom Risser ’85 remembers specifically the freedom and escape of the weekend.

“A chance (for students) to share, unwind and diversify the Guilford experience while bonding beyond the classroom,” said Risser.

Other students, especially those engaged in athletics, find it difficult to truly enjoy the weekend. Lacrosse team member Mimi Shimura, a junior and exchange student from Japan, commented on the difficulty of balancing work and play.

“I think (Serendipity is) a good thing,” Shimura said. “But this weekend I have a game, so for some athletes, it’s kind of a distraction because we really want to enjoy Serendipity but we can’t.”

Despite the struggles for athletes, Serendipity definitely brings the community together. This was proven when its existence was threatened last year. Students shaped up their act and fought for the festival.

“The students understood that ‘hey, we need to take this seriously. This is our tradition at Guilford, and we don’t want to lose that,’” said Community Director of Milner Hall Amy Costa.

Even so, an ambulance and multiple fire trucks blared onto campus this weekend. The balance between imposing on fun and providing safety is difficult for Campus Life and Serendipity staff to achieve. Obviously the well-being of students trumps all other factors, but a suffocating Public Safety presence or earlier quiet hours would ruin the atmosphere.

How would you describe Serendipity in three words?

“Much-needed madness,” first-year Luke Bley said, reflecting on the break the weekend provides for students.

What is often a quiet campus, Guilford comes alive over Serendipity weekend.

Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Steve Moran summed up the weekend.

“Community, arts and fun,” he said. “For me, there’s a lot of artistic expression that’s part of this weekend.”

Be it art, music or capture the flag, students need Serendipity-esque weekends to relax. Such events bring out the liveliness in Guilford students as we become daring and carefree. Guilford should consider a fall festival during the first semester, providing students with two opportunities to enjoy a community weekend.

This could reduce the severity of safety concerns as it wouldn’t be seen as the only crazy weekend of the school year. Athletes then would also have a chance to participate should their schedules be busy later in the year.

We need more campus-wide events that bring Guilford together. Students need to be present as a whole community rather than separated by the divisions that we’re beginning to see. Serendipity provides a common ground that all students can appreciate. As a college, we should aim to create more of these interactions.

Do you have a favorite Serendipity moment?

The final question caused the eyes of alumni to glaze over in remembrance.

“The bull ride was my favorite,” said Irving Zavaleta Jimenez ’08, assistant director for multicultural education. “The electrical bull ride: I’d always wanted to do it, and I did my last year.”

Other students cited Color Fest as the highlight, while some preferred the relaxed nature of Lake Fest.

Regardless of the activity, spirits were high. Over 70 Guilfordians could be seen running through the woods for Outdoors Club’s largest event this year: capture the flag. If Serendipity provides a stage for students to engage with each other, community is definitely built through weekends like this. Why not have another?

This is not to say that Guilford should promote monthly College-funded parties and subsequent hangovers. What we need are events that draw the attention of the majority of students, rather than specific focus groups. Creating an inclusive atmosphere of community demands that we spend time together as a community.

Serendipity, with its traditions and excitement, holds a special place in the hearts of students and alumni. Many of these memories are due to the camaraderie Serendipity brings. Let’s extend this togetherness throughout the year, not just a single weekend.

Should there be more than one Serendipity?

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