Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Are we a community or just a campus?

 

By Nadia Paschal

 Each year SUNY Plattsburgh welcomes students who are drawn to the smaller size of the campus. With more than 60 clubs on campus, several sports teams and an active Greek life scene, students seem to have many chances to branch out and get to meet new people. Boasting a population of around 4,000, it seems guaranteed that students will get to know people more intimately as they see them around the campus so often. 

Freshman Allyson White, who’s a social work major, shared that meeting people has been rather easy for her. She attributes her ability to connect with her peers to her extroverted personality.

White said that despite her busy schedule, she wants to dedicate more time to being involved on campus and form new bonds by making a full commitment to a club that interests her.

White has seen and heard about the variety of clubs and organizations that the campus has to offer.

“I mainly go to other people’s club meetings and help my friends in a music club and help them set up for something, even though I’m not in the club,” White said.

Although White goes out of her way to be involved on campus and connect with others, she said that isn’t always reciprocated.

“I would actually say hi to people and they wouldn’t acknowledge me, or they had their headphones in, or they would look at me weird. I would get hurt by it,” White said.

It can be intimidating trying to get to meet and know people in college, especially if you’re new to the campus.

“If you’re just sitting in the corner, nothing’s going to happen. But if you’re actually going up to people and being like ‘Hey, we’re doing this thing, come on, come join us,’ it’s a lot more welcoming. You don’t feel very awkward walking into a room alone,” White said.

Some people, however, do not share the same sentiment. Some students feel a disconnect from their peers. Some feel like outsiders, while others are just disinterested.

Arroyo, a sophomore biology major, shared the expectations he had before officially enrolling. Like many freshmen, he was eager and optimistic to step foot on campus.

“It’s college. Everyone hangs out with everyone. You meet a bunch of new people, and that’s the time where you finally get to evolve,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo was a part of the Educational Opportunity Program, which provides aid to students who need financial and academic support. Students arrive during the summer and spend time as a group getting acclimated to the campus as well as getting to know each other.

“We all experience the same thing, we all had the same struggles growing up,” Arroyo said. “Once we actually got to SUNY Plattsburgh, we finally saw the real student demographic, which was the complete opposite of what any of us had to go through.” 

Arroyo still mainly talks to those he met through EOP, as he finds he connects to them on a deeper level than those who weren’t in the program. He feels that without being a part of it, he would not interact with many other students on campus.

“It’s a lot less problems to deal with, way less drama. You only have to worry about the people who care about you and the people you care about,” Arroyo said.

When Arroyo first came to campus, like many new students he explored all the different clubs that are available to join. Some made him feel welcome, but several did not.

“It’s just hard sometimes because there’s already pre-made groups,” Arroyo said. 

Because Plattsburgh is a small town, it has a tighter knit community than other places may have. 

Students who grew up here and live locally often choose to stay close to home, giving them a better sense of the town and the school. 

According to Gray Associates, 15% of the students on campus are from Clinton County. However, the culture may be a shock to those who are not from the area.

“It’s such a small place up here. Everyone already knows a little bit about each other. Everyone probably already has (issues) with each other,” Arroyo said.

Although we’re not in college forever, by taking the time to branch out, you could meet people you really connect with whom  you may not have met otherwise. 

As both a smaller campus and a smaller town, we should strive to strengthen the bonds between fellow Cardinals. 

 

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