First Year, First Impressions of Social Life

When choosing a college, many students are concerned with how they can have fun in between all of their hard work. As a result, on-campus social life emerges as a defining feature in higher education. It is especially important for first-years as they are meeting many new people, making friends, and in most cases, living away from home for the first time. While some students have settled into a social life that works for them, many first-years are still navigating how the social scene works.

When asked about social life on campus, the majority of first-year students responded that nighttime social life seems to revolve around sports teams. Aiden Sachs ’21 said, “I think that in general a lot of the Saturday night social life surrounds the sports teams, so if you’re not on a team or [don’t] have direct access to a ridge it’s hard to find a place to go or something to do.” She added, “but I mean people have kind of started to make the connections at this point so it’s definitely on the ups.” Multiple first-years explained that making connections is important to social life and participating in gatherings hosted by sporting teams.

While the majority of first-year students agree that sports, and the parties associated with them, are a very large part of social life on campus, some students mentioned other events, such as Cro dances. Many students said that the dances have been fun and that they enjoy that part of social life. Sachs said, “I really liked Fall Ball. It was super fun and it seemed like a lot of people, no matter who they were there with, were just together and enjoying themselves.” Fall Ball seems to have been successful among the first-years interviewed. With other dances, though, such as the Moonlight Dance, students said there was some room for improvement. Charley Nyzio ’21 believes that overall the dances have been pretty fun, but she said “I remember the first castle court dance that nobody went to, so that was kind of awkward for freshmen that ended up going.”

When the Voice posed questions regarding social life to upperclassmen, respondents gave mixed answers. Caroline Smith ’18 agreed that sports teams, dances, and gatherings at the Ridges and Winchester apartments make up a large part of on-campus social life, but also said, “there are definitely other sources of social life too, though, like a cappella groups, other performing groups like musical casts, even clubs and organizations like SGA or academic groups like PICA. What I’ve realized throughout my time at Conn is that most people actually have a lot of different social groups and settings, and also that there are a lot of different social scenes, it just takes some time to find them.”

First-years also brought up that there seems to be limited space for social events. Students have been unable to get into events or gatherings because there is not enough room, especially because of fire code restrictions on venue capacity. Geoff Norbert, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement and New Student Programming, mentioned this issue in an interview with the Voice. He said that student engagement is one of Conn’s strengths, but the limited number of social spaces is a clear weakness. For an example, Norbert suggested: “Look at the MOBROC Barn for instance. We have such a talented group of student musicians who also bring great bands to campus. However, the Barn is not equipped or built to be a performance venue.” Norbert then offered a possible idea for improvement in the spacing issue by saying, “I think a modernized student center would have a huge impact on this campus allowing students to have a place to hang out, perform, and gather for late night events in ways this campus has not seen.” He went on to say that administrators are keeping this on the table while developing the new Master Plan, and the concern is highlighted in the existing Strategic Plan.

When Sarah Nappo ’18, co-chair of the Student Activities Council, was asked about social life on campus, she stated that she believes it is very diverse and inclusive. While SAC sponsors many events, including many of the dances students mentioned, “There is always something going on, even if it is not SAC sponsored.” Nappo encourages students to browse the events posted on Connquest for guidance. She also asks any clubs looking for funding or advertising for events to contact SAC, which can help, since all clubs contribute to the social life on campus.