Popularity is a fascinating idea when observed among college-age students. For myself, popularity is an integral part of social culture at Trinity that I run into far more often that I assumed I would on a college campus before I matriculated. Each time I hear my classmates say “only popular students got elected” or the like, I wonder how such a concept can survive on a college campus, where I assumed most already experienced the social pressures of high school and are looking to move past them.
In my curiosity, I began to ask my friends at other schools if popularity and social cliques were present on their own campuses. I was met with several resounding “no”s and immediately wondered if this was a Trinity-specific situation. To be fair, many of my friends attend larger universities. With thousands and thousands of students, most of my friends reported having a close-knit friend group, several acquaintances in the dorm or in their major, and perhaps knowing the names of the MVPs of football or basketball teams. At such large schools, it is nearly impossible for students to emerge as the most well-known. Trinity is only about 2,100 students, a size more similar to the average public school than the universities of my friends from home. While it is true that not everyone knows everyone on campus, it can sometimes feel thatway, and it is no surprise that some students can be well-known to a large majority of the school.
Despite this, even my few friends at smaller colleges similar to Trinity have never mentioned popularity or social standards as a very big part of their own college experiences. On campus, a common remark I have picked up on is that Trinity sometimes seems like more of a “typical” high school experience, the kind of clique-dominated social atmosphere, than many students’ own high schools.
The Tripod, and the Trinity community at large, can endlessly debate and criticize our social culture here on campus and have done so extensively in the past. This might be due in part to Trinity as a generally homogenous culture- one that comes from having a large majority of students coming from the same part of the country, the same type of schools, the same socioeconomic backgrounds, and the same fashion sense. Incoming classes, however, are continuing to be growing more and more diverse in every sense of the word.
Popularity is another indicator of Trinity’s inherent social problems. But like so many of the culture seen on campus, it is accepted as a concept that is impossible to change and a constant part of life at Trinity. Trinity’s social culture problems stem from the incorrect acknowledgement that is impossible to change.