By Jimmy Yun
A common concern I usually hear from prospective students is the social dynamics of a small liberal arts college. Sure, students are concerned about academics and athletics, but social life seems just as equally important in the college decision-making process.
I have been asked many questions regarding the social scene at Union, such as, “Is Union a bigger version of a high school?” or, “Do I have to be a part of Greek life to fit in?” Or sometimes, rather bluntly, “Is Union too cliquey?”
Before we answer the question, let’s examine what the word “clique” actually means. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary it means, “persons who interact with each other more regularly and intensely than others in the same setting.” To me, that does not seem that bad, it perfectly describes an ideal friend group. However, when most people think of the word clique, they think of the stereotypical divided lunch hall where people are segregted by their interests in sports or clubs.
For a small college, Union certainly has a large-school atmosphere with lots to offer to its students. Union still offers a close knit community, with less than 2,200 students, while having over 20 intercollegiate sports teams that range from football to crew, 100 clubs of various interests, over a dozen Greek organizations and the Minerva system. I think it is fair to assume to make that Union caters to motivated students with varied passions.
At Union it is not hard to find a football player who is also a Scholar and in the next school play, or a Minerva council member who is also involved in Greek life and plays cello. Union and its students are far from the standard black-and-white, one-dimensional college stereotype most people assume; rather we are well- rounded, multi-dimensional students who bring a lot to the table.
With that being said, people will spend more time with those that have similar interests, whether it is a sport, hobby or passion. That is the beauty of Union: students bring to and share so many different interests at the table.
Personally, I have found a varied group of friends in my dorm, on my rugby team, in the classroom and at social gatherings on the weekend. Sure, I might spend more time with my friends on the floor but that does not mean I will pledge unwavering loyalty to them and only them and not grab a meal or play a game of FIFA with other friends. I believe most Union students feel the same way and do not feel socially constricted. One main reason I love Union is the fact that most people go out of their way to branch out and form new connections.
When students on my tours ask me this question, I always answer “no” and then “yes.” I answer no because Union is not your “stereotypical” school where the “cool kids” sit in the back of the dining hall. I then answer yes because we do branch off into our own small groups and, as cliché as this sounds, Union itself is a gigantic clique.
Over break I was fortunate to meet with some alumni and it amazed me how they were genuinely interested and curious about my time at Union as they drew parallels between their experiences and mine.
We were interacting more feverishly in a normal setting because we share a common passion, which is Union.
Sure you might not become best friends with everyone during your time here, but in one way or another we all share this bonding experience.