While it may seem that the perpetual state of freezing winds, snow, and down jackets will never fade away, Short Term is (slowly) approaching. A marvelous time of the year, Short Term ushers in warm weather, a relaxed schedule, and a multitude of Bates traditions.
Among them are the classic sun-soaked Saturdays and Sundays at Range Pond, where Bates students get as close to a tropical paradise as Maine allows. This year, however, Bates students may find themselves facing a different relationship with Range than they have in the past.
Patrick Tolosky, a senior, was co-leading an Outing Club camping expedition at Range Pond and had the opportunity to talk to a park ranger about the sentiments park authorities have toward Bates students. While setting up a tent on the frozen water, Tolosky was approached by a park ranger who engaged him in a conversation about the ways Bates students treat Range. The ranger expressed frustration in the carelessness and overall disregard that Bates students exhibit when relaxing at Range.
Public consumption of alcohol, often by underage students, lackluster clean-up efforts, and disruptive behavior are only a few problems that the park rangers face in dealing with Bates students. As the ranger made clear to Tolosky, the rangers do not have a personal vendetta against Bates students as a whole, but they are frustrated with the minority of Bates students who chose to treat Range Pond as an outdoor party space.
It seems that Bates students fail to realize the reality that Range is a state park where families and other people that are not Bates students come to walk, swim, and relax. When hordes of Bates students go to Range and mistreat the park, it allegedly eliminates the inclusive and respectful environment of the pond.
Park authorities understand that Bates students want to enjoy the warm weather, but many of the activities conducted by a minority of Bates students at Range—Kan Jam, inebriated canoeing, and drinking—are either extremely disruptive to the public or generally unsafe. In response, Range Pond authorities are considering measures such as changing hours of operation to hopefully limit the influx of Bates students at the state park.
Tolosky, a member of the Campus Culture Working Group, believes that the issue between Bates students and Range Pond authorities is indicative of the Bates student body at large.
Many changes on campus are targeting issues related to the social scene of Bates in order to foster a more inclusive and less destructive weekend culture. These efforts should translate to student conduct at Range Pond. Students have been able to exhibit respectful relationships with the off-campus community; Thorncrag, a bird sanctuary in Lewiston, has long been an outdoor space that Bates students enjoy in a responsible way—Range Pond is no different.
One thing is clear; if Bates students want to continue enjoying Range and the amenities it has to offer, they must change the way they interact with the space.
In looking to repair the already tarnished relationship between Bates students and the park authorities, Tolosky has brainstormed ideas such as a service and clean-up day at Range. Initiatives such as a service day, which would come from the leadership of Bates students and could potentially be in collaboration with park authorities, would be a step in the right direction towards exhibiting a respectful and mature relationship with Range Pond. For now, Bates students may continue to enjoy Range Pond responsibly.