Last Thursday, I met Matt Scott and Sam Clement (Bennington Student Life) at the flagpole for a hike along the Blue Trail. It was a very “Bennington” experience that I actually quite cherish because at first I was kind of dreading the walk, my social anxiety getting the better of me; but right from the get-go when I met Matt before Sam had arrived, he was so friendly and interested in my work with The Beacon. They both just made me feel good (despite being at the onset of an allergic reaction while on this hike!)
Matt and Sam hope to make this Blue Trail hike a weekly event for students to interact with them, ask questions, and/or just say hi and have a nice time in nature. They started asking me questions about The Beacon immediately, Scott saying that he really enjoyed The Bennington Free Press when he was a student, and it truly felt that they were invested in my personal experience here and care about how the lives of Bennington students are progressing in and out of the classroom.
They of course asked me the obligatory “What are you studying,” and when I responded with acting, music, and dance, they told me they were both music students when they went here. When I mentioned my Jazz Vocal Workshop class, Matt was quite excited to tell me that Bruce Williams was possibly his favourite human being. As we continued chatting, I learned that they want to better understand how to make resources most conveniently accessible for us students.
For example, they discussed how they sent out a survey to first-years to ask where they go to get most of their information about Bennington. They determined that most students responded with Instagram and were brainstorming what that means for future publicity of campus-wide events. Students might also be aware that Matt Scott is the brain behind the Student Events Calendar that debuted this term, so obviously he is interested in making sure students can easily find out when events are happening on campus in order to bring the campus together as a community. They both were telling me how shocked they were that many students are not even aware that the Blue Trail exists!
I personally love the Blue Trail. It is such a serene stretch of woods (when you aren’t puking on the forest floor), and I have so many memories already of walking it with friends. So I, too, was shocked that a good deal of current students, particularly freshmen who were remote last term, don’t know that this resource in nature is available to them. Taking this walk with Matt and Sam made me feel very grateful to be at a place in my time here where I am comfortable reaching out to these kind people so that I can have experiences like this–casual, but meaningful. I think finding the value in spur of the moment or less-than formal activities is what the Bennington education is really all about.
One more exciting piece of news I heard on this walk was regarding the college’s recent partnering with Pangea (which students should be aware of because of the Coffee Hour a couple weeks ago when we received treats!). Matt and Sam are working on getting our Bennington ID card to swipe at the Pangea bakery so that their products would essentially be covered by the meal plan, or at least discounted for students. Finally, another exciting thing I learned is that according to Matt and Sam, apparently Powers Market and Hannaford are supposed to take the card too already.
To end on a personal note, it was quite clear to me that these guys actually care about us students a great deal and are working on new ideas to improve our experience here (I know I felt taken care of as they quickly adapted to my sudden sickness and made a speedy detour off the trail toward the campus garden!). If you should ever have any questions about these exciting initiatives or just want to chat with these fun people, email Matt Scott to sign up for what they hope will become a weekly hike with students on Thursday afternoons at 2pm. They meet at the flagpole and hope to see you there (on the Blue Trail! Which exists, if you didn’t know.)!
Anna Rose King is a third-term sophomore studying primarily acting with supporting areas of dance, music, and literature and focusing on the concept of embodying authentic characterization through multiple modes of performance. She is a SEPC representative for drama and aims with her co-rep to support independent projects in the Bennington Drama community. You can find her belting in the Lens around midnight most weeknights.