As a returning sophomore, I was excited to come back to the University of Richmond to engage and interact with a variety of clubs and organizations. But as time has gone on, my passion for this place dies a little bit every day because of the lack of social inclusivity and opportunities for students.
SpiderNights and some other programs are available for students, but the sad reality is that they are not consistent throughout the entire weekend. And with lodges being as exclusive as they are, options have dwindled.
Stressed and anxious over not having a social life, I reached out to trusted faculty members, administrators and even my CAPS counselor. They only repeated what many of my friends continue to tell me:
“Just connect with people who go to VCU.”
“Get off campus more.”
“Try harder to find what you’re looking for.”
There is some value in getting off campus every once in a while, but I don’t think my friends, faculty, staff and administrators understand how much time I and other students commit to off-campus internships, volunteer opportunities and other ventures. I am off campus so much that I sometimes feel disconnected from UR.
This fuels my desire for pleasurable nights and adventures on campus. With this desire, having student development professionals tell me to get off campus more feels like a slap in the face. It’s as if they understand how hard it is to break UR’s group dynamics, while actively choosing to give up on any hope of those dynamics actually breaking.
I feel as if I’m being asked to designate another institution as my “social home,” while shelling out thousands of dollars to UR.
What am I to make of campus when the people employed to support students actively encourage me to leave? It’s as if every time I complain about not having the chance to connect and interact with my friends on campus, I’m bombarded with negative responses — so much so that I stop asking about nightlife. I’ve stopped trying to find things to do because I’ve accepted that they either don’t exist or are inaccessible.
I have contemplated attending off-campus parties and events this semester, but I am always reminded that I can’t when I take a look at the cost of an Uber or Lyft.
Without a car, my travel options are limited because I, quite rationally, decide not to spend $15 to travel fewer than five miles one way every weekend. I typically find myself alone watching movies in my room or getting ahead on work simply because there is no catalyst encouraging a break of the social behavior that governs student groups on campus.
Although there is beauty in meeting people off campus, why should I be obligated to connect with students who go to a different institution for social fulfillment? I feel forced to go elsewhere to get what the school promised to me and my peers.
My admitted student visit here was predicated on the belief that I would find family and community.
I was told that there was plenty to do outside of Greek life and that, even out of class, students actively found themselves among friends.
I remember it well, because it’s “the vision” I sell to prospective students when I lead campus tours. I try to talk about my own time at UR, but I find myself actively employing the experiences of other students because my actual views are not consistent with said vision, or what UR preaches in its strategic marketing.
I shouldn’t have to leave UR to make friends or find intimacy. My involvement with and connection to students outside of UR should not result from a lack of social opportunity on campus. I should not have to leave my “home” to find friends or to have a good time.
I have attempted to tell my story. I’ve tried to address my concerns through active dialogue with policymakers on campus, but I have discovered “change” takes too long. Are students to sit and wallow in social anxiety and depression from not being able to have meaningful, enjoyable social interactions? With the lack of social functions on campus, are students to pay for Ubers and every single social outing?
Although I applaud UR for the school’s tremendous work toward making campus more inclusive and thriving, there seems to be little concern for the students who are presently on campus.
I have hope in President Crutcher’s committees and initiatives, but I challenge UR — students, faculty, and staff — to really consider what campus and students need right now.
Contact contributor Will Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.