Connecticut College opened as an all-women’s college in 1911 as a response to Wesleyan’s refusal to admit women. Elizabeth C. Wright and other female Wesleyan alums, angered by Wesleyan’s antifeminist turn-around, channeled their passion for education into opening Conn. They prompted New London, Conn’s surrounding town, to raise $135,000 to open the school.
58 years later, the college admitted its first co-ed class. Students at Connecticut College now study under the 84-year-old Honor Code, a system of academic integrity that’s completely student-enforced and arbitrated.
Connecticut College spans 750 acres. Residential areas, dispersed among administrative and educational buildings, are divided into three areas: North Campus, the most recently built; South Campus, which opposes a group of academic buildings; and Central Campus, the oldest and closest to the student center and library.
The campus features open, green spaces and historic granite architecture. An arboretum, Connecticut College borders Long Island Sound.
Conn’s beautiful campus seems like a bubble set off from the surrounding towns of New London and Waterford—and many students lament the difficulty of traveling off-campus, since these towns aren’t within walking distance. When they do get off-campus, students shop, hang out at Harkness Beach, and go to New London bars. Good New London restaurants include Muddy Waters, Captain Scott’s, Bangkok, Paul’s Pasta, and Olio’s—as well as a number of organic choices, like Mangetout and Bean and Leaf.
Some students take courses at the Coast Guard Academy and others work at local elementary schools. And New London, a harbor city at the mouth of the Thames River, offers beautiful views of the Long Island Sound. But since it’s a drive away, most Conn students stay on campus the majority of the time.
Every year, Connecticut College students engage in various rituals from a low-key Olympics of sorts to a naked dance and run to a huge concert on the lawn.
Floralia is the tradition of all traditions. Taking place in gorgeous, warm May, it surpasses every single campus activity by miles. Conn College is known for its beautiful campus and students take full advantage of sunny spring days by sitting out on the green. On Floralia, we take it a few steps further – students get to lounge on their very own couches outside all day while drinking beer while listening to live bands. This is basically as good as it gets. Conn College students like to think of Floralia as a pseudo-Woodstock and they take this day seriously. Many wake up super early on Saturday morning to stake out their spot – they move the couches and coolers to their desired location and then fall asleep till all the slackers who got their beauty sleep arrive to find that all the good spots are taken. Floralia is a true campus-bonding experience as all revel in the music, booze, and sun and enjoy the time they have left at school before exams and summer.
Camelympics is a dorm-bonding experience that occurs in October in which all the houses compete against each other to win the greatest amount of medals. There are all types of categories one can participate in: scrabble, floor hockey, water balloon toss, Guitar Hero… Everyone is encouraged to participate and since there are so many different options to choose from, you are bound to be good at one of them. Some dorms take Camelympics very seriously and they play with the intention to win. Other dorms just have fun and booze it up a bit – their goal is to show up to their event. This might seem like a goofy tradition and some students might play it off that way, but secretly, who doesn’t like to act crazy while wearing full-out dorm apparel with their your equally ridiculous friends?
Fishbowl is a Conn tradition enjoyed by the senior class in the spring, right before graduation. During Fishbowl, Cro (Conn’s student center) is closed off to all students but the seniors who receive copious amounts of free alcohol. As the night progresses and their inhibitions are cast away, they all take off their clothes and run naked as a class from Cro to a gong outside of Cummings. They ring the gong and do many celebratory cheers because after all, they are graduating and surrounded by naked people.
Lee Eisenberg (1999) is a writer for The Office.
Joshua Green (1994) is the senior editor of the Atlantic Monthly and a contributing editor for the Washington Monthly.
Amy Gross (1963) is Editor-in-Chief of O, the Oprah Magazine.
David Gross (1990) is the Commissioner of Major League Lacrosse.
Estelle Parsons (1949) won an Academy Award in 1967 for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Bonnie and Clyde.
Nikki Palmieri (2004) was Miss Connecticut in 2004 and competed in the Miss America pageant in 2005.
Connecticut College is an NCAA Division III school with 28 varsity teams. Conn’s teams (the Camels) compete in the New England Small College Athletic Association (NESCAC), which also includes Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan and Williams. Conn is also a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
Conn also offers club sports and intramural opportunities. Over 75 percent of students are on a club or intramural team. Club sports, though subsidized by the Student Government Association, are entirely student-run. Teams compete with club or junior varsity teams at other New England schools. Intramural sports are recreational and include leagues, tournaments and single-day events.
Connecticut College was chartered as a women’s college.
Conn has a reciprocal exchange agreement with the United States Coast Guard, so USCG Academy students can take courses at Conn and vice versa.
Students at Conn can take music lessons for free.
Conn was mentioned in the “Night Out” episode of “The Office.”
Talk show host Tavis Smiley spoke at Connecticut College’s 2008 commencement.
Conn’s dorms are sectioned into three areas: North, Central, and South. North Campus includes the dorms Marshall, Hamilton, Wright, Park, Morrison, and Lambdin—known collectively as the “Plex.” These are the newest dorms: many were built within the last ten years (both Marshall and Hamilton were given a facelift this past summer) and offer air-conditioning and more private bathrooms. The six dorms in the Plex connect from the inside, with three on each side of Harris, the main dining hall. Proximity to Harris is a particular asset in winter, when students wear their pajamas and slippers to meals. Another plus: the Plex is the only dorm open during winter and spring breaks. Athletes required to stay on campus for training can stay in their own rooms if they live in North Campus—unlike students in other areas, who must stay in friends’ rooms. However, the Plex is far from academic buildings, which is a big negative in cold weather.
The dorms in Central and South Campuses are older than those in the Plex. Both complexes are close to the academic buildings—at most, students in Central and South Campuses will have a five-minute walk to class. Central includes the dorms Blackstone, Branford, Burdick, Plant, Smith, Windham, Katherine Blunt, and Larrabee. In addition to academic buildings (like Blaustein and Fanning Hall), it’s close to Shain Library, Cro (the student center), and Harris (the main dining hall, in the middle of North Campus).
South Campus, which includes the dorms Jane Addams, Freeman, Harkness, and Knowlton, is a bit far from Harris and Cro—but it’s on the Green. During the fall and spring, students flock to the Green and do their homework in the sun, or lie out with friends and enjoy the weather. The Green hosts Conn’s soccer games, too, so South residents can walk straight out of their dorms and watch the current match. South’s dorm rooms are also known for their character.
Freshmen are selected to live in a particular dorm. Students can apply to live in a few specialty houses—including Knowlton (the language house), Blackstone (the substance free house), and Burdick (the quiet house)—but other than that, freshmen dorm assignments are random. All floors and bathrooms are coed, though females can apply to live on an all-girls floor.