We are finally at the eagerly anticipated period of the academic year when it looks like and feels like springtime. No longer are we scurrying in and out of our rooms, off and on buses, avoiding any extra time out of the comfort of our living spaces because it is just too cold to be out and about doing anything aside from going to class and getting food.
Me: “Honestly, we can still go to the party if we really wanted to.” Friend: “You get off of work at 1 a.m., the party ends at 2 a.m., there is no way you can make it in time for it to be worth it.”
It is not news that Rutgers is divided into numerous sub-sects of social and ethnic groups. We are comprised of a student body from all over the world. What I feel unifies many of us as students at Rutgers is that despite the overwhelming population here, we are able to create bonds based on ethnic backgrounds, shared culture and/or upbringing.
As Rutgers embarks on its "do not ask, do not tell" week of trouble-making, mischief and potentially poor decision making, I cannot help but think about how significant the concept of spring break has become to our age demographic. A conversation that I was having with a few friends led to one of them posing of the question: Is spring break really an excuse to wild out? By “wild out,” I mean go nuts, behave in a substantially less concerned manor, partake in scandalous or taboo activities, etc.
In the spirit of Black History Month, I want to touch on what I feel is a need for greater leadership in the Black community at Rutgers. Being that our school is so large, it can be difficult to develop relationships with faculty, staff and administrators that help motivate us to maximize our opportunities and better our overall college experience at Rutgers. It is because of this discontinuity that we students rely on the peer support and mentorship provided through the organizations and departments on campus.
Despite the overt discrepancies in how different groups socialize, and the fact that the social cultures in college vary due to many factors, most of us have nonetheless had to, and may still be finding out how to, navigate the various nuances of Rutgers social life. In an undergraduate community as large and socially diverse as the one we currently exist in, it is a necessary skill to determine how you “fit” in the grand scheme of Rutgers relations. The question is whether Rutgers’ social culture has bred an obligation to assimilate in a way that is toxic to how we operate as a community.
As we enter the new semester, I would not be alone in suggesting that the social climate at Rutgers during the current academic year has been, at best, lackluster thus far. I want to preface my future thoughts and claims by identifying myself fully. I am an African-American, School of Arts and Sciences junior. I am heavily involved at Rutgers, and my social circle is largely comprised of other Black students pursuing STEM fields. Those in this circle tend to be, at minimum, juniors as well. From my lens, and the lens of most of whom I associate, Rutgers has undergone a sharp decline in its social climate, especially as it pertains to partying.