Yes, there are parties, but they're often poorly attended. Gatherings phenomenally turn into parties at Hampshire - whoever's sitting on those two boxes of Franzia and a bit of herb is most likely having a party this instant. Dorm life is crazy that way, and it's part of why mods are preferable. Mod communities are welcoming, but not constantly consuming substance. The big parties every year are Hampshire Halloween in the Fall and Easter Keg Hunt in the Spring. There used to be a Drag Ball, but persons in the trans community expressed upset in 2009, ruining the tradition which had brought Kurt Cobain to Hampshire. Yes, people in the dorms leave their doors opened, but it's like I said: this environment becomes tiresome within a year. The dorms had ought to be featured on The Wire -there's more substance exchanged and more people tripping in those buildings than in the whole of Western Mass. That said, kids get sick of this fast - it's all part of growing up. We can't stay eighteen forever - your first evaluations may reflect this truth. The dating scene? Phenomenal or nonexistent. Sorry straight guys: you don't approach; you are approached. Otherwise you're doubtlessly behaving in an affronting and offensive manner - you'll be contrived as a misogynist for engaging in simple, sexually suggestive (equal) manners. The LGBTQ community seems to have the best sex and dating life - it still isn't as good as the less-standoffish LGBTQ community I witnessed studying abroad in Edinburgh. And this is funny to me, because Hampshire is one of few schools where your physical 'roommate' may be of the opposite sex, if you so choose. I only know a few couples of the opposite sex who do this - it seems to be a lovely set-up, though I could see disaster pending if the relationship weren't solid. Things to do not involving sex, drugs, and rock-and-hiphop: we host a variety of lecturers from all over the world, as do the other colleges, almost every week. Though we don't have competitive 'sports' or 'frats,' we do have a variety of athletic clubs and student groups. I'm a 'signor' for the new Roosevelt Institute public policy Chapter at Hampshire; there are a hundred plus other groups doing all sorts of exciting things. For those who don't drink (as I'm cutting back on doing): there are both sub-free designated living spaces and groups that meet commonly. On the average night, if you check your announcement-emails, you can usually score free pizza and a movie at these meetings. If all else fails: there's porn in the world. xD Off campus life is vibrant - there are all sorts of parties at the other colleges, few of which I can remember. Amherst and Northampton are feel-good towns with too much to do to list here.
People at Hampshire are typically very friendly and most students leave their doors open and are always open to a conversation or an adventure. It's very easy to get involved and meet people either through living with them, through classes, or through the tons of clubs you can join. In terms of having fun and partying, week days are pretty tame, though the smell of pot is pretty much always prevalent throughout the dorm halls. The weekend starts on Thursday, the low-key part of the weekend, and it usually involves drinking or smoking pot with small groups of friends in dorms (the doors DO get closed at this point, unless you want to get caught by an intern). Fridays and Saturdays are more high energy- there's always parties in the mods, and always at least one crazy-themed dance party. Of course, all the partying requires some relaxation- weekend brunch at the dining hall is always full of unkempt, tired-looking students who are nursing hangovers with tatertots and water. In terms of large-scale events, we have about three major traditions that happen every year. First is Hampshire Halloween- a huge halloween party with the slogan "trip or treat" that's full of dance parties, fireworks, and crazy costumes- it's the biggest and best party of the year. Next is Easter Keg Hunt which is pretty self explanatory. Kegs are hidden by upperclassmen throughout the woods on campus and people wake up incredibly early to go find the kegs- most people are trashed by noon. Last is Spring Jam, a fun outdoors event that's full of moon bounces, carnival food, and great, live music. It's a nice, relaxed time to hang out with friends and chill out before spring finals start to get too heavy. As for other events, athletics aren't really a big thing- our basketball and frisbee teams get small audiences during games, and we don't have greek life. There are plenty of other clubs and music groups on campus that get a lot of attention, though. Campus can get a little small sometimes, and there are plenty of things to do off campus- there's plenty of restaurants, shops, cinemas, and venues within a 15 minute radius, and tons of great places to explore on weekends in the surrounding towns. The PVTA bus (which is totally free!) takes you anywhere from Amherst center to Northampton, and if you can find a car, there's plenty to explore in the surrounding towns- from the butterfly conservatory in Deerfield to the Bookmill in Montague.
Hampshire has a fantastically active social life. One that is so great it often distracts people from their studies. But a party at Hampshire, makes any frat party you will attend in the future incredibly dull shallow and depressingly sexist and desperate by comparison. The people are great and excited, and conversations and arguments break out all over the place. The only "party's" to advoid at Hampshire are those thrown by the res life interns, which all tend to be incredibly awkward, like high school dances, would be if only 5 people showed up. The frisbee team is great (and the only serious sports team on campus) but is often very clicky and the most jock-like group on campus. Guest speakers are almost non existent, although if desired they can be seen at other colleges. The art scene is fantastic and leaves something to be desired for all art outside of Hampshire. That said there is also a lot of terrible art there... The music scene is great, and people are always dancing with it. Also there are always a lot of great campfires. Easter keg hunt is great, drag ball is great. Apparently trip or treat (Halloween) used to be great until the administration started organizing it. Also as stated above it is a great area to hike, bike rock climb, canoe, any outdoor activity really. I however wouldn't recomend road biking, the drivers are terrible, the shoulders narrow and the roads riddled with pot holes. Off campus there are not as many great activities. Also it is an incredibly safe campus, I have rarely heard of anyone having anything stolen (and almost everyone leaves their doors open) and when things have been it is almost always by people who aren't students.
I hate to continue in such a negative vein, because Hampshire College really is awesome, and if you find the right people you can live it up pretty unfettered, but community and student life really are not our strong suites. There are a fair number of student organizations, and it isn't hard to start one. Most of them are political, some are special-interest (like manga clubs, anime clubs, japanese illustration clubs...) others are academic (like the right proud Hampshire Animal Behavior Group) and these permit upper classmen to help lower classmen arrange their programs, or keep posted on events, internship opportunities and the like. You can learn a lot from other students...provided you find the right ones. Students are generally pretty trusting, a byproduct either of our college's small size or its "hippie" nature. Doors are left open and most people are approachable. There are virtually no activities, with the exception of Hampshire Halloween (which is sick-nasty, and you should go even if you don't wind up at Hampshire), which encourage the student body to congregate in full. The party scene at the school is weak at best, and essentially a lot of New England Prudes Turned Hippies dancing in small circles by themselves, never touching a member of the opposite sex. This dismal report is not universally the case, however. Some parties are legitimately awesome. Again, it's a matter of finding people you like. Off-Campus events are a better bet. Whether it's a concert in Northampton or an Amherst event, you may be able to find your fragment of the five college community in their natural environment.
No one is involved. I have started clubs but no one cares. People are mostly out doing things that personally interest them by themselves or with a few friends. Some students leave their doors open but people do steal. People feel safe bacause Hampshire is this "fruity, drug loving, liberal hippi school" but people are still human and they do steal. There are no athletic events save the occasional frisbee and basketball games which no one knows or cares about. There are rarely lectures at Hampshire worth going to although there are several other schools in the area. Hampshire Halloween has started sucking really hardcore. The administration wants to do away with the drug loving image and so they have cracked down in an extreme way. No one wants drug dealers running the scene at Hampshire but everyone does want to have a good time. The students are almost enitrely opposed to the anti-drug actions of the administration. How often do people party? Uhhh....depends on your definition of partying. How hard is it to find a group of people to smoke weed and drink with? Not hard at all. Drinking happends every weekend in excess even though there are never good parties. If you are planning to go to college for the awesome dance parties, skip Hampshire. Unless listening to jam bands and smelling unwashed bodies is your thing... Off campus you can see a movie, go in the woods or eat out. These are the three things you can do off campus unless you travel outside the valley.
In terms of legal activities: If you can't find it at Hampshire, you can at another of the five colleges. In terms of illegal activities: You can find it at Hampshire. Also at another one of the five colleges. Hampshire has late quiet hours which are not always enforced. The campus is pretty laid back, though. Most people are trusting, although I've known a few to get computers stolen while in the shower. The bathrooms are co-ed, but this is fine. There are some loud halls/mods, some quiet. It really depends. Traditions (Hampshire loves to make them): Hampshire Halloween: this Halloween bash once made the top-ten for Rolling Stone's best parties of the country. Now excessive spending and administrative interference makes dropping acid and floating on top of costumed people less "totally rad." Mustachio Bashio: Hosted by the Greenhouse mod, this is a large mustache-only party. Most people grow or buy their most extravagant facial hair. It's amusing to see men's faces change on Friday night before the big event. Easter Keg-Hunt: Name says it all. Get out there early; it'll be gone by noon. Drag Ball: Held in the dining commons. Last year, the president and his partner came decked out in drag. X is a popular drug choice at this event. If you want any type of drug in large proportions, Hampshire is the place to go. Especially noted for psychedelics. The drug scene, though, is relatively easy to avoid, although not to ignore.
There are a lot of student groups on campus, which are student-run. One popular group is New Leaf, a student group for environmental sustainability. Athletics are NOT big at Hampshire. The most popular sports team is our ultimate frisbee team, the Red Scare. There are also basketball and soccer teams (and possibly some others?) but they don't generally get a lot of attention on campus. There are no fraternities or sororities at Hampshire. There is definitely partying that happens on campus, but I don't know much about it because that's not my social scene. Although there is a lot of alcohol and drug use (especially marijuana) on campus, it is also possible to find students who are not into that. There are sub-free halls in the dorms, as well as sub-free mods. There are also different noise level designations in the dorms and mods. Hampshire Halloween is a very popular event that happens every year. Drag Ball is also popular. Midnight breakfast is served outside of the Merrill Living Room every Friday.
There are a lot of traditional events that happen at Hampshire like Hampshire Halloween, Keg hunt, Drag ball, etc. These type of events are popular and people from the five colleges like to come to Hampshire for these. It is most convienient at Hampshire to hang out with people that you live near. I met my closest friends by living with them. I was placed with them randomly since I came in as a transfer student. Students in the dorms usually are very open, people in the same halls are all close friends, generally speaking. People who live together in the mods are also usually close. There are sub-free living areas on campus and there are students who are committed to being substance free. They have their own events and parties. There are no fraternities/sororities. There is drinking and parties with drinking. The biggest and best parties are usually on Friday nights.
Hampshire Halloween, Spring Jam, and the Easter Keg Hunt are big deals on Hampshire. Obviously, they involve a lot of debaucherous fun. The theatre community is thriving, but it can get catty (like any theatre department, I'm sure). Athletics are wayyy on the back-burner, although Hampshire guys are trying to build up a respectable soccer team. It can be hard to get students to regularly come to club meetings, because everyone is so in their own head space. Usually the promise of food helps. There is zero Greek life. That said, many a PBR is consumed each "weekend"--that is, Thursday-Saturday nights. There are usually one or two parties per weekend night, and everyone crams into a sweaty room and dances, drinks, and makes out. It can be really fun, and it can be really sketchy. Plenty of people are up all night playing guitar and ordering pizza.
One of the biggest groups on campus is Red Scare Ultimate Frisbee. We are NOT as intense as people think we are, and we love having new people join our team, which is open to everyone. Red Scare has been one of the constants in my Hampshire career. Though it is a close knit community within Hampshire, I was able to break out of it somewhat, expanding my social sphere. HCEMS, a great program with great people always looking for new members and new leadership. People party a lot, but partying doesn't mean drinking, necessarily. With the Ultimate team, we're usually gone most weekends for tournaments. But when I'm here, there's usually a party, or music, or a party with music, going on. Boston is close. NYC is close. But even Northampton has some big and small names come to town to play shows.