Student-led “One Colby” Initiative Aims to Unite the Campus Community around Common Goals

The "One Colby" bracelets. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Multimedia Producer)
By Kardelen Koldas '15
September 28, 2020

Last spring, after COVID-19 closed the campus and scattered the College community, leaders of the Student Athletic Advisory Board (SAAC) Justin Masella ’21, Bret Miller ’22, and Robyn Pirie ’21 put their heads together over a Zoom call. They wanted to draft a statement reflecting on the unprecedented times. As thoughts landed on the page, their eyes fell upon the very last words: One Colby.

They were initially thinking of using the phrase on gift wristbands, but the release of the Mule Pledge took their ideas to the next level—a campus joining together with common goals. They’ve connected with constituents including the Student Government Association (SGA), Campus Life, the Pugh Center, and others for their initiative to live up to its name. Now, it’s become a joint, campus-wide initiative.

“It’s really about buying into protecting and supporting the entire community and being one Colby and doing what you need to for the greater good,” said Pirie, SAAC’s co-president and a women’s lacrosse player.

This desire, SAAC believes, will be stronger among the students because this is coming from their peers. And already, the effort has taken hold with the community.

Justin Masella ’21
Justin Masella ’21, SAAC’s co-president, with his “One Colby” bracelet. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Multimedia Producer)

SAAC first partnered with the Student Government Association (SGA). “We really look at it as an opportunity for us to join together as a team,” said SGA President Ashlee Guevara ’21. “That’s a great representation of the real camaraderie that we’re trying to build here at Colby.”

But creating a sense of camaraderie will extend beyond COVID, Guevara stressed: “One Colby also stands for the fact that we have to hold each other accountable in a multitude of ways.” Including “our promise to be a socially equitable society and hold each other to that,” she said, “so this messaging is not only for COVID.”

That campus-wide sense of purpose is no coincidence.

“We want to bring everyone together centered around common goals,” said Masella, co-president of SAAC and a member of the football team, adding that their initiative could bring together a “community where you have authentic relationships, people have your back, you’re really a part of something special.”

In essence, “One Colby” carries the idea of being more than just yourself and caring about others around you.

Said Miller, SAAC’s assistant executive administrator and a men’s lacrosse player: “When we thought of ‘One Colby,’ it was like, ‘We’re creating a Colby team.’”

In addition to “One Colby,” SAAC created “Hold the Hill.,” a statement putting forth the idea that everyone needs to work together as “One Colby” to protect Mayflower Hill and to be able to remain together on campus.

Organizers envision this team-spirited movement to serve as a guiding principle for the community—including students, faculty, staff, and even alumni—under any circumstance.

As a visual symbol of the “One Colby” commitment, everyone on campus started receiving a Colby-blue bracelet at the COVID-19 testing site. On the one side, it carries the “One Colby” logo, and on the other side, it says “Hold the Hill.” Efforts, including One Colby banners around campus and sharing One Colby videos on social media, will continue throughout the semester.

SGA believes that “One Colby” and “Hold the Hill.” will be constant reminders of the commitment and responsibility that Colbians have to each other.

“We’re all in this together—One Colby—and we all need to do our part,” said Sam Rosenstein ’21, SGA’s vice president. “One individual act can end up impacting not only the Colby community and the Waterville community, but it can also jeopardize this opportunity for us to be together for all the students.”

Because of that, student engagement is critical, Guevara explained.

“It’s really up to us as students to hold each other to those standards,” she said. “We’re part of a really amazing community; I don’t think that this would work without us being the community that we are.”