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The Bridge on the Drina

Senior Cocktails, faculty engagement, Espwesso, and the state of Wesleyan society.

The Bridge on the Drina

The media has been having a field day with last Friday’s Senior Cocktails. History, at least as it is popularly understood, often influences the character of the future, so this article seeks to illuminate three brief bits of historical meaning. The first involves the intent of the Allbritton cafe now called Espwesso. The second, an old norm of behavior between faculty and students. And finally, the origins of Senior Cocktails, the third. All told, these elements collectively form the tale of a beautiful and normative aspect of Wesleyan society that aged, became tarnished, and eventually disappeared.

I titled this “The Bridge on the Drina,” after the Ivo Andric historical novel of the same name, for reasons that will hopefully be clear by the end of the article.


Allbritton, Wesleyan’s Kapia

As you might expect, the centerpiece of Andric’s novel is a bridge across the Drina river, lying athwart the town of ViĊĦegrad near the border between Bosnia and Serbia. This bridge serves in analogy for many aspects of Ottoman rule in the Balkans (and some of these I will reference later on), but for now its importance lies in the kapia, the widened center of the bridge. Upon the kapia sit the people of the town, resting on benches of carved stone, chatting, sipping coffee and plum brandy bought from the vendor’s stand, and conducting business of both great and little import. The kapia is as central to the society of the town as it is to the bridge itself.

So it was to be with cafe space allotted on the bottom floor of Allbritton.