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How Many Seniors at Hilton Head?

In our discussion of the (new) tradition of many Williams seniors spending the time between final exams and graduation festivities at Hilton Head, poiyay wrote:

I cannot comment with any authority on the origins of this idea, although it was pretty well established when I went last year. I would guess that smaller groups started going 7-10 years ago and it has been increasing in popularity since. Last year, I would estimate that at least 80% of the senior class was there.

80%?!? Wow. That is pretty amazing. Is it accurate? Are there really 400 Williams seniors at Hilton Head this week-end? There was some effort to create a listing on WSO, but it went nowhere.

Also, surely EphBlog reader can help nail down the history of this event. I am fairly sure that no one went to Hilton Head in the spring of 1988. Did you go? Did you know anyone who did?

What Eph deserves credit for starting what sounds like an amazing tradition?

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#1 Comment By 1980 On May 21, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

It’s not just Williams. Seniors from a number of other northeastern colleges also head to Hilton Head for their respective “senior weeks”. Sounds like fun but I wouldn’t want to be inadvertently on vacation in HH those weeks.

When I was at Williams, senior week destinations were less exotic and much closer to Williamstown. I went to the Hamptons one year, Boston area another, and Fairfield County my senior year (in each case to attend parties given by various seniors at their homes). Obviously it was not just seniors were attending these events; many underclassmen would also head back to Williamstown to attend the Senior Dinner Dance.

#2 Comment By JPS On May 22, 2008 @ 2:21 am

As an ’07 who didn’t go to HH, 80% seems high. 50% seems closer, though.

#3 Comment By Stacey ’97 On May 22, 2008 @ 3:57 am

I went to Virgina Beach with a bunch of people. I know there were 2 or 3 Williams houses nearby, but I have no idea where anyone else went.

#4 Comment By JeffZ On May 22, 2008 @ 7:08 am

If Obama wins, were I him — with his message of inspiring youth, and making sacrifices, and whatnot — one of the first things I would do was suggest that college kids spend every other spring break in their four years at college doing service trips instead of partying trips, and ask colleges and charities to help coordinate / facilitate that. I bet if he made a public, impassioned push, he could inspire a substantial percentage of kids to make that choice … the sort of creative use of the bully pulpit that Bush could have, but failed, to employ after September 11 …

#5 Comment By poiyay On May 22, 2008 @ 9:27 am

80% does, at first glance, seem pretty high. I came to that estimate because out of the seniors that I knew, probably more than 90% went. This rigorous scientific analysis is clearly beyond refute.

#6 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On May 22, 2008 @ 10:54 am

By coincidence – I think – after my last post about being concerned about renting our house to senior week groups, we got an e-mail (last Thursday) from a group of Ephs looking at our house for the week. After a very nice series of e-mails, they are there now hopefully having a great (but not destructive) time.

My Eph contact told me that her understanding was that Hilton Head started becoming a popular senior week destination around 2000.

#7 Comment By Me On May 22, 2008 @ 7:19 pm

I agree with the ’07 who said the HH number is closer to 50%. The number of people who left campus was close to 80% though. Maybe even higher.

#8 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On May 27, 2008 @ 10:57 am

Update: The Williams seniors who rented our house have now left. To the best of my knowledge (relying on the cleaning service we use), there was no meaningful damage. I also received a very nice note from the entire group:

“We are about to leave your beautiful beach house- we’d all like to say thanks very much for allowing us to stay here on such short notice. We had a wonderful time and your house was absolutely fantastic…

…Again, we’d all like to say thank you for the generous discount. We all had a wonderful week before graduation and we’re extremely grateful to you for
letting us use your house.”

It was a very positive experience from my perspective, and I wanted to share it with Ephblog’s readers since it ran directly contrary to what I had expected. It sounds like they also had a great time. Perhaps we’ll have more Ephs next year!

#9 Comment By Eric Soskin ’99 On May 28, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

I recall that several groups of people went to Hilton Head in 1999; however, the contingent was sufficiently small and the “tradition” new enough that it didn’t appear on our group’s radar until after we planned a trip to New Orleans. Attending graduation in 2000, however, I heard enough stories of adventures and misadventures in Hilton Head to give the impression that it had really mushroomed.