From space, Marlboro and Emerson couldn’t look more different: There’s Marlboro, a cluster of tidy tin roofs and green fields, alone for miles in the deep pile of Vermont woods, and Emerson, jagged pieces snapped into the jigsaw puzzle that is downtown Boston.
But on the ground where it counts, with the people and the traditions, the colleges have much in common. Here are just five off-beat examples.
Brooms and wizards – Since 1988, Marlboro has hosted an annual Broomball Tournament on the campus ice pond. Broomball is kind of like hockey, but with brooms and minus skates. According to the Marlboro website, “nobody is actually good at running on the ice, so everyone can play.”
Emerson students play quidditch, which, as far as we can tell, is sort of a cross between football, soccer, and basketball, played with volleyballs, dodgeballs, and tennis balls. Unlike the original game from the Harry Potter books, collegiate quidditch isn’t played on flying brooms (in case you were wondering). However, players do run around with a broomstick between their legs.
If that sounds like a stretch to you, consider this: Marlboro also has an annual Hogwarts Dinner, where quidditch has been known to be played. Take that, muggles.
Breakfast After Hours – Yet another Marlboro tradition is the Midnight Breakfast, held at the end of each semester. It features music, dancing, and 100 percent pure Vermont maple syrup.
Emerson does Late Night Breakfast, which is just like Midnight Breakfast, but more like 10 or 11 pm. (We have to get up early.)
SATC – Emerson and Marlboro alumni have come together in roles on the groundbreaking HBO series Sex and the City. Marlboro’s Chris Noth played Mr. Big, Carrie Bradshaw’s on-again, off-again lover and eventual husband (if you made it to the films), and Emerson’s Mario Cantone ’82 played wedding planner extraordinaire Anthony Marantino.
Miles to Go – Marlboro folks have access to more than 17 miles of trails on their 400-acre campus. They can bathe in nature and clear their heads for… I don’t know… however long it takes to walk 17 miles.
At Emerson, they’ll have access to the 40-mile Harborwalk, which will take them along the perimeter of the city. They’ll breathe the salt air, contemplate Boston’s seminal place in America’s history, and watch seagulls fight over French fries before collapsing from exhaustion somewhere in Dorchester.
Boo – Wherever you go, there you are, surrounded by the spirits of the dead.
At the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, there’s reportedly a phantasmic couple who catches shows from the balcony, a little girl who accepts gifts, and the spirit of a former Boston mayor who died in his seat while watching a play. There is no historical record of any Boston mayor dying during a performance at the Majestic, according to WBZ, but why let a lack of verifiable facts get in the way of a good creepy story?
Generations of Emerson students have reported inexplicable noises and visions in the Little Building, and earlier generations of alumni swear Charlesgate East, which the College used as a dormitory from 1981 to 1995, was super haunted. If the tales can be believed (spoiler: they can’t), from 1891 when the building was constructed, through the 1960s, Charlesgate East saw a mafia hit, a number of suicides, and a tumble down an elevator shaft by a 7-year-old girl.
In Southern Vermont, people talk about the ghost of Emily Mather, a young woman who, in the late 19th century, lived with her family on a farm that later became Marlboro College. According to lore, Emily fell in love with a traveling salesman. When her parents forbade them from marrying, the salesman drowned himself in a stream and Emily hung herself in the attic of her home – now Mather House, the college’s administration building.
There’s also apparently a Ghost Cat who prowls the Marlboro North residence hall. Marlboro sophomore Aaron Damon-Rush’s has a fascinating essay on haunted Marlboro and the wider cultural significance of ghost stories in Potash Hill.
We can’t wait to welcome Marlboro students, faculty, and traditions (and Emily and Ghost Cat if they can get along with the dead mayor) to Emerson.