This piece was published in The Diamondback
Were you on Route 1 after the men’s basketball team defeated Duke? Did you have a good time? I sure as hell enjoyed bonding with my fellow Terps — some of whom I didn’t even know — over random chants of “F— Duke.” But I observed something else, something far more important that night.
Even in the crowded streets, the interaction between people beyond their cliques was minimal. Occasionally, you’d see a familiar face and say hello. If you were drunk, you might have gone as far as to embrace an acquaintance. Mostly, people remained strangers to those around them.
I observed the same thing yesterday at the North Campus Dining Hall while grabbing a quick bite during dinner. The interaction between students, beyond their preexisting group of friends, was sadly nonexistent. Granted, this part of the campus predominantly features freshmen who have lived in College Park only for about six months — definitely not enough time to get acquainted with the more than 5,000 people who call North Campus home. Yet the very fact that most people didn’t seem to know, or bother getting to know, who was standing in front of or behind them in the lines was discouraging.
The social scene at this university is awkward; I know many who are frustrated. Some tend to feel lost in the crowd. Others feel out of place.
Now, I admit one column isn’t going to change things and, therefore, I won’t indulge you in cliches like “go out and make friends, join clubs, etc.” People are still going to feel frustrated, cliques will still remain the norm and the social scene will continue to be awkward.
This is a problem, and something needs to change. Folks in College Park need to expand their networks. As much as your narrow circle of friends enriches your perspective, non-cliquey connections can be highly beneficial — giving you spiritual food for thought, helping build business relationships for the future and who knows what else.
So I want to invite the community to think about ways we can increase connectivity among students. While college is about hanging out with your friends — your clique — it is also about expanding your social circle. It is about getting a taste of interaction with people from diverse backgrounds and settings; it is about hanging out with people you would have never met otherwise.
My friends and I have started a “soiree” club. We host weekly soirees and invite people to have interesting and thoughtful conversations on a wide range of topics such as spirituality, politics, economics and business. The biggest draw, however, is the potential connections we can make. It is a space where we all try to go beyond our cliques and get introduced to people hidden to us in the wider campus community.
If you think you’d be a good fit and would like to meet and hang out with other motivated individuals on this campus, I encourage you to send me an email. Will be happy to include you in this network.