If you are looking for a bustling urban center, Hamilton College is not the school for you. The middle of central New York is predominantly farmland and lacks the excitement of a big city. Some students begin their four years at Hamilton without fully understanding this fact. It has been a problem, especially for first-years who lack the mobility of a car to escape. In the winter, options for entertainment are limited to College-sponsored events. With feet of snow outside, life in a rural setting can quickly become tiresome.
At first glance, this area of the country is economically depressed and uninviting. Parts of the Utica area seem to be in a perpetual state of disrepair, and the remaining skeletal buildings left over from its bustling days of industry can make the city seem like an empty shell in the dead of winter. Many students choose to stay on the Hill or in the village of Clinton for the bulk of their free time. Occasionally, parties and drinking have gotten out of hand, which has earned Hamilton students a poor reputation in the eyes of the local residents. In the past few years, a lot has been done to ease tensions between town and gown. Grumbles surface about alcohol-related incidents and noise, but the relationship between the local community and college is strengthening. That said, most students come to love their surroundings. Utica does have charm; all it takes is a little perseverance and exploration. Limited, enjoyable nightlife does exist in the city: the Stanley Performing Arts Center, and a number of bars, clubs, and cheap ethnic restaurants offer a number of options. Clinton has an exceedingly small number of entertainment venues, but they give the college students looking for a brief respite from the Hill a place to go. Additionally, the campus itself does host events; those students who take advantage of the options presented to them find they have more than enough to keep themselves busy.