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Eliot Olson / Staff Photographer

After I had been accepted early decision to Columbia, I was excited for any type of contact with the University, as it would be nine months before I could officially come to campus as a student. When I realized that Columbia offered admitted students the chance to visit campus and stay overnight, I signed up as quickly as possible. I still remember my first steps on campus as an admitted student. The people I met and the various Days on Campus activities helped to define my vision for what my four years here could be.

A little apprehensive, I made my way to the host matching station, luggage in tow. I’d already attended several overnight programs at different colleges during the application process and was well aware of how a host could make or break a visit.

Although I’d already decided that I would attend Columbia, I didn’t know how my host would impact my perception of the University. Through those two Days on Campus, my host would be the lens through which I viewed the Columbia community. He showed me around the campus, taking great care to make sure I felt welcome and at home. He introduced me to his friends, talked to me about my interests, and suggested ways I could pursue them while at Columbia. This experience showed me how important it is to host admitted students, and I knew I wanted to do the same for other admitted students one day.

Although a host doesn’t have to be as attentive as mine to have a lasting impact, they have the important job of putting a human face to the Columbia name for many admitted students. If done properly, a successful hosting experience can sometimes set the tone for an unforgettable four years on campus. The experience also provides current Columbia students the opportunity to connect with the new generation of lions and can remind them of their initial feelings upon entering Columbia, even allowing them to fall in love with our school all over again.

Having had such a positive experience, I was excited to host admitted students of my own and signed up to host this Days On Campus season. However, I have noticed that other male students do not feel that same way that I do.

There was a shortage of male hosts for the second Perspectives on Diversity Days on Campus weekend this year. Most of my female friends were already hosting students before I asked them; my male friends took some more convincing or even outright refused.

It’s interesting that behaviors break down this way. Do people not want to host because they are afraid of being matched with a student they won’t like? Is it inconvenient to their schedules? Do they not want to be responsible for another student? All of these reasons that were given to me by male friends are valid. After all, asking a stranger to sleep in your room for the night is an odd request, and bear in mind that students are not compensated in any way. However, it seems that there is a deeper issue here: our lacking sense of community and connection to the world outside our gates.

I’ll be honest, I’m usually not one to share my space with anyone. I view my room as my space—a place to enjoy on my terms. This is a perspective I seem to share with other males on campus, and perhaps is indicative of the larger individualistic cultural bubble here at Columbia. However, even with this in mind, we need to learn to open ourselves up to others and to allow ourselves to share in communal experiences, and Days on Campus allows us this opportunity to do so.

Hosting a student is an act of responsibility and commitment, concepts that require us to reject our wants and conveniences in support of others, and concepts that reflect the maturity we must embody as adults. It reflects poorly on us as a campus that so few male students are willing to help shape the future of an admitted student, but this is something that we can easily rectify.

We as a student body are proud to be Columbians in word, but not in action. We should consider applying this same intention of making people feel welcome on our campus every day—not just during Days on Campus—in order to build a better, more inclusive Columbia community. Roar, Lion, Roar!

Gabriel Gonzalez is a first-year student at Columbia College. He is a member of the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee and a tour guide for the University. Say what you want about his hosting ability, but at least he’s a better one than Walder Frey.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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